by Libby Sommer:
Sometimes there is a person in one of my creative writing classes who is obviously very talented. I can bring to mind one in particular. You could sense people holding their breath as he read, and often his hands shook. The writing process opened him up. He said he had wanted to write for years. He was so excited about writing that he straight away wanted to write a book. I said to him, slow down. Just practice writing for a while. Learn what this is all about.
In Japan becoming an itamae of sushi requires years of on-the-job training and apprenticeship. After five years spent working with a master or teacher itamae, the apprentice is given his first important task, the preparation of the sushi rice.
Writing, like becoming a Sushi Chef, is a life’s work and takes a lot of practice. The process is slow, and at the start you are not sure what you are making.
Futomaki (“thick roll” – rice on inside, nori on the outside)
Uramaki (“inside-out roll” – rice on outside, nori on the inside)
Temaki (“hand roll” – cone-shaped roll)
It took me 14 years to produce a manuscript that a publisher was prepared to turn into a book. I am forever grateful to small but prestigious Ginninderra Press for taking me on. Two books so far: My Year With Sammy (2015) and The Crystal Ballroom (2017).
So cut yourself some slack before you head off on a writing marathon.
Writing is like learning to prepare the rice for sushi: the apprenticeship is long, and in the beginning you are not sure whether a Futomaki, a Uramaki or a Temaki will be the end result.