Ha. Oh, my naivety.
Turns out taking care of fish is a lot like learning how to write. The first point being that most people *think* writing a book is easy, but they are sorely mistaken. They open up that fresh Word doc with much the same attitude I had bringing home my son's new goldfish. "This will be easy. I know what I'm doing. It can't be that bad." And then there's a dead fish in a month. Or an abandoned, mangled manuscript.
Even after much googling, Petsmart trips, buying a bigger tank, learning how to test water conditions, and buying medication, we lost two poor fish, and the third had a seriously close call, just finally responding to medication. As I've lost these poor guys, due solely to my inexperience and lack of research, I can't help thinking about how I was as an amateur writer. How I am as an amateur anything, really.
I tend to bite off more than I can handle. I get really excited by whatever new thing I'm doing without stopping to think about how it *should* be done. Then, of course, I fail miserably.
Sometimes my failure leads to abandoning a hobby. Like dancing. I was horribly uncoordinated and had no problem saying goodbye without much effort past a few classes. But then there have been other things, like art and writing, where my failures don't seem to stop me from trying and learning more. For some strange reason, fish keeping has been the same way. Despite killing two fish thus far and making just about every rookie mistake, I'm still determined to get this thing down.
It's been weirdly fun to be an amateur again. The fish killing, of course, was horrible, but learning a new thing has been invigorating. And finally garnering some type of success has had me on cloud nine all day. My fish is eating again! I did something right! I saved the poor thing from the fate of his earlier companions! It's like I'm getting somewhere, and I remember those same excited feelings when I began to make progress as a writer as well. That's the fun thing about starting as an amateur—you can usually SEE your progress clearly. The better you get, the harder it is to tell you're improving at all.
Sometimes, I feel like I've peaked as a writer, or maybe not so much peaked...more like, it's become a little stagnant. My improvements are small tweaks, where they used to be huge leaps. While I wouldn't want to go back, and I'm definitely proud of how far I've come, that newness is kind of gone. The victories are quieter. My routine has settled. I know what to expect when I go into a project. None of this is bad—just a different kind of enjoyment that you have to get used to.
I have no idea how far I'll take my newfound enjoyment for aquariums, but I'm happy to have found a New Thing that brings me not only enjoyment, but lessons to learn from. I may have saved one fish, but I'm still far from knowing my stuff. I look forward to the adventure, and this new one has reminded me that my writing road isn't over yet, that there's still excitement and newness and victories to come.