The test was nearly two hours long. I performed four kata, two bo staff kata, and dozens of sequences of punches, kicks, blocks, and throws. I sparred for three minutes and broke four wooden boards with three different parts of my body. I answered questions and wrote an essay.
It’s official: as of Saturday, May 28, I have a black belt in karate and jiu-jitsu.
Which, you know, is pretty flippin’ sweet.
I’ve talked before about the similarity between writing and karate. It’s probably no surprise that I see a similarity, too, between getting a black belt and getting your first book published.
In both cases, it’s the culmination of years of work (three and a half years for my black belt). In both cases, it’s a major milestone, something worth busting out the champagne for, something you can point to and say: see? See? I never gave up. Something you will have forever. Something you will tell people about forever, whether they’re interested or not.
In both cases, it’s also a sort of validation. It says, all right, look: you’re not totally crazy, you’re not just screwing around, this isn’t just some hobby we’ve humored you about. This is a real thing. This is something you’re actually pretty good at. For someone with infinite reserves of self-confidence, that might not matter, but for me, it’s pretty damn rewarding.
And finally – most importantly – it is, in both cases, only the first step. Getting a black belt really only means one thing: you’re not a beginner anymore. The intro is out of the way; you know the basics. You may not have mastered the basics (and trust me, I haven’t) but you more or less know what’s up with this thing. You’re ready to start for real; it’s, like, on. Let’s see what you can do.
Well, I have a black belt. What I don’t have yet is a published novel. Let’s see what I can do.
How was your Memorial Day weekend?
Second-pass revision progress on The Counterfeit Emperor – 88%.