In writing, I’ve found there are moments when suddenly my work seems to have taken a giant leap backwards–not because it actually has, but because my critical skills and ability to see my own work clearly have taken a leap forward, only my actual writing skills haven’t caught up so that I can address the flaws I now can see. I’ve found these moments of seeming backward progress are actually needed for me to make forward progress.
I think as a fencer I’ve been sort of like I was as a very beginning writer: thinking my work is pretty decent, and wanting to scream with frustration with the fact that it isn’t selling, because as far as I can tell the writing is just fine. Only, while my writing had its strengths from the start, it really wasn’t fine, and once I saw that (with the help of my first critiquen group), I realized I needed to get back to work, harder, never mind that I was working pretty hard already.
More bend in the knees. Don’t lean forward. Do stand sideways. Extend the arm more. Control hand and wrist better. And then, somehow, relax as you’re doing all that. The learning curve for fencing is steep, at least for me. But I can see the small improvements now, too.
And at least I know how to be stubborn and keep at things–something that’s gotten me through more than one thing I’ve taken on, even when I was nowhere near the most talented person doing it starting out.