One of the things I learned from doing Yoshinkan Aikido came from a class affectionately called a Hajime class. Hajime just means 'begin' in Japanese. And that's what it is - an hour, two, two and a half, three hours of beginning and never stopping. You do technique after technique as hard and as fast as you can. Over and over and over. No rests. No breaks.
The first time you do a class it's because you really don't know what to expect. You get prodded into it by sniggering classmates. It's an act of sheer willpower and spirit to get through to the end without collapsing or throwing up. (Many do throw up or collapse. Some come straight back onto the mat. Many quit.)
The second time you take a class because you DO know what's coming and you choose to do it anyway. That, to me, shows even greater spirit.
So, when I offered to help my writers group create a second anthology of short stories, it was the writing equivalent of a second Hajime class. I knew what I was getting in to: a year of stress, joy, frustration, excitement, exhaustion, and pride. There were times when I wanted to throw it all in. Helping 15 authors (from beginners to experienced writers) to develop stories to a polished, publishable level is not easy.
But it IS rewarding. Not only do I learn more each time about how stories work, I also learn more about how to help bring the best out in people. How to stretch them and find their strengths as writers. I'm sure the results aren't deathless prose or perfect - I'm not arrogant enough to think I know everything about writing stories - but they're pretty darned good.
What I like most of all is that I get to see the authors' glowing faces when they hold the book and see their name in print. There's nothing like knowing you've worked your arse off and produced something sixteen people are proud of. Nothing like knowing you've helped people you care about achieve their dream.
If you'd like to check out the result of all that hard work, you can pre-order here: ELEMENTAL
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many