Last summer, when my son Fulton was just a baby, we went swimming a few times each week. Every time his skin would hit the pool he would smile and and giggle. I would put his belly on the surface and fly him over the pool like he was a super hero. Some of my kids haven't taken to water in quite the same way, but Fulton? He loved it.
But this summer was a whole new experience for my now toddler because Fulton doesn't remember last summer. To him, this was like his first time. The first day we went out, I took him with the other kids to one of those big city pools, the ones that have the zero depth entrance for the little kids. As soon as I set him down on the concrete, he checked out all the other kids running around, people jumping off the sides and splashing. As summertime chaos raged around him, his eyes grew huge with wonder- and probably more than a little fear.
I led him to a little yellow slide, the kind where small kids go up two or three steps and slide down into about a foot of water. He didn't want to go. He was freaked out. But I finally got him to the steps, and he hugged the side of the wall, his eyes darting back and forth as he tried to figure out exactly what the other kids were doing.
You could see the wheels turning. He simply didn't know what to do. He watched others, he got a little more comfortable and finally he made those last two steps and slid down into the water. He promptly fell backwards, gulped a huge amount of water and started to cough. I helped him turn over, get upright, and then I led him back to the slide. This time, he was a little more confident and when he made his way down the slide, he hit the water, kept himself upright and smiled the world's largest smile.
I don't know how many times Fulton went down the slide that day (it felt like a thousand). But I know this, no kid in the history of the world has ever had as much fun as he had that day. And you know what? Of course he did...because...well, he loves the water.
Writing is kind of like that. At the beginning, we don't know what the hell we are doing. We look around, see how other people do it, we bump into things, and we fall. And to a lot of people this is all discouraging. And once you get through the initial discouragement, there is more to come. Rejections, bad reviews, your mom hates it, whatever. And if you got into writing for the money or for the wrong reasons, then plenty of this might derail you.
But of course you didn't. Presumably, you got into writing because you love it.
Remember that, never forget it. Yes, along the way, there are things you need to do that you won't love but....BUT...never forget to find a way to write, and to write about the things, that continue to make you love it. That's where your true voice will shine.
And when you bump into things, have bad days, and generally don't feel like you have a clue, just remember this....if you truly love the water then everything will work out...eventually.