In preparation for my eventual move to Germany (yes, that’s happening), I’m making an effort to learn the local language – resource of choice thus far, Duolingo.com.
It’s been a fun challenge. Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache*, but es ist noch kein Meister von Himmel gefallen**, and all that.
*An expression I’m told means “German is hard”.
** Literally, I think it means something about how we don’t fall from heaven already having mastered everything; figuratively, “Practice makes perfect.”
I’ve noticed something, though. When I first started my Duolingo lessons, I didn’t have much trouble getting everything right. “Hooray!” cheered Early Me. “Das ist einfach!” [“This is easy!”] But as the weeks went on, with me diligently plugging along every day, making langsam [slow] but steady progress, I seemed to be making bothersome little mistakes more often, and having trouble remembering all the words I learned.
“Doggone it!” Later Me gnashes her teeth. “Whatever happened to the saying about the Himmel Meister? C’mon, Danielle – make perfect!”
But it makes sense, really. The more you know, the more there is to forget. And the further along you get in a learning venture, the higher your expectations for yourself, meaning it takes less and less to make you feel like you’re dropping the ball.
Or is that just me?
It’s certainly not just me and German. It applies to writing, too.
In my early authorial years – age 5 through 18 or so – writing was a breeze. The words flowed easily almost without fail. The characters’ dialogue practically wrote itself. The plots just happened, no weeks or months of brain-racking preparation required. And revision? Who needed that? These books came out practically ready to sell themselves!
Haaaaaa-hahahahahahaaaaaaaa… *sniffs* *wipes eyes* Ouch, my sides …
Writing used to be easy because, unbeknownst to me, I was writing glorious, golden garbage. Another third of my life later, I now have a better idea of all the ways I can craft a story wrong. And that makes writing much, much harder.
Nevertheless, there is something else learning German and continuing to learn how to write have in common: I’m in it for the long haul!