My almost-ten year-old grandson Jordan attended skateboard camp this week, and I, as his chauffeur learned right along with him. It was pretty cool, if a bit unnerving to watch Jordan zip up and down ramps and half pipes, trying out new tricks. The first trick to learn is the ollie, I discovered. This involves slamming down the tail of the board and leaping up in such a way as to "catch air." It looks easy when it's done right, the skater and board coming up as one.
But it's scary, too, and painful when skater and board don't reconnect in the right way. Jordan has an impressive-looking bruise on his left shin as testimony to this.
Still, the ollie is the basis for all the other skateboard tricks, including the kickflip, which mesmerized me as I watched the experts do it, leaping up, nudging their boards to spin in the air, then reconnecting gracefully: board, skater, and ramp.
Jordan and I both learned a powerful lesson this week: If you want to be a master skateboarder, you have to be willing to "catch air" no matter how painful the learning may be.
Writing (and life) are a lot like that too. Catching air means leaving behind the firm ground and taking at least a little leap. This summer, I've committed to doing just that with my current book project, Finding Nonna. I'm leaving behind the firm earth of the old plot and leaping up to catch some unexpected story twists involving an Italian greengrocer, a neurotic dog, and, as of this week, a skateboarding friend for Ellie.
I have to admit, as I leave the terra firma of the old plot, which was quite serviceable, my stomach is sometimes churning. But wow! As I catch air, and sometimes land on my feet by the end of the chapter (like yesterday) my heart soars. Each day I'm getting better with my writing Ollies.
I think this week I'll try a kickflip.