Sometimes there’d be a person in one of my creative writing classes who was obviously very talented. I can bring to mind one in particular. You could sense people holding their breath as she read, and often her hands shook. The writing process opened her up. She said she had wanted to write for years. She was so excited about writing that she straight away wanted to write a book. I said to her, slow down. Just practice writing for a while. Learn what this is all about.
The journey to completing a book reminds me of training to become a sushi chef.
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)
That’s how it was for me. I thought I could jump in and write a book in 6 months. In fact, it took me 20 years to write a publishable manuscript. My debut novel, ‘My Year With Sammy’, the story of a difficult yet sensitive child, published by Ginninderra Press in 2015 went on to be Pick of the Week in Spectrum Books and winner of the Society of Women Writers Fiction Book Award in 2016.
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.