I've been watching, from a strange sort of time-stuttered distance, over the course of visits to their house, as the son of two of my dear friends has learned to crawl, and as he is getting ready to walk. The most interesting thing for me has been to watch the expressions on his face, these looks of deep concentration, as he tries to tell his body what to do, and frustration, when sometimes it doesn't, quite. And then the big, still mostly toothless, grin of utter delight when everything works.
When I first started keeping this blog, one of the things I talked a lot about was writing. It made sense - I started blogging not too long after I started writing seriously, and, like any other new skill, I was really excited about the things I was learning. Also, one of the things that was so helpful to me when I began writing was the blogs of other writers. They were places to go to learn about things like beta readers and word count and what to do on the days you realized that you needed to cut 30,000 words from your book because you took a wrong turn.
Reading about writing not only was one of the ways I taught myself to be a better writer, it was one of the ways I felt like I had a community - these other people, people with actual publication credits and books on shelves - we did the same things, we had the same kind of bad days, we celebrated the same kind of victories. So when I figured something out, figured it out in a way that I could articulate it enough to write about it, posting it on my blog felt, in some weird way, like I was participating in that writerly community, like I was maybe leaving a path of pebbles for the next set of people.
It's been about five years since I started writing seriously. (I attended Clarion five years ago next month, so that's where I count from.) I'm not sure what I am now, but I'm not a newbie anymore. I am sure that I'm a better writer than I was then. And I talk about writing much less.
Part of that is my own reluctance to talk about ongoing projects. Oh, sure, I'll rant about a bad writing day or exalt when I've figured something out on twitter, but I'm much less comfortable posting extended thoughts on works in progress. I think because I've learned how much projects can shift and change, and I don't want the memory of someone saying "Oh, that sounds cool" to make me reluctant to cut a part that really needs to come out.
But also because writing has become more muscle memory for me. I don't mean to say that it's easy. It's not. Nor am I always convinced that what I am doing is OMGTheBestEVER. (Honestly, I don't think I've ever been convinced of that, even when I am proud of the finished project.) But I have a much better idea of how the pieces of stories ought to work, and how to make characters that breathe, and how to incorporate tone and voice. My brain knows how to do those things now, so I have to think less about how to do them. I feel like maybe I've learned to walk.