What Driving Can Teach You About Practicing Writing

This guest post is by Thuy Yau. Thuy is a writer, who likes helping others lead happy and fulfilling lives. She has a personal development blog at Inside a Mother’s Mind. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@insidea_mm).

I’m not the biggest fan of driving. Once I hop into the car; the road needs my undivided attention, my heart beats anxiously, and I fear the busy traffic around me. Still, I know it’s a fact of life that I need to drive, so I do it.

I also drive because I know the importance of practice.

Driving a car is much like the art of writing. It takes a lot of practice to transform our weaknesses into our strengths. You don’t become a safe and confident driver overnight, you have to practice, practice, and practice some more.

Let me illustrate my point by explaining why I now have an embarrassing scratch on the back of my car.

driving a car

Photo by Richard Taylor

Our house is located at the bottom of a steep hill. You can probably imagine my horror the first time I realised I would have to reverse out of the driveway. I knew that if I parked backwards, front of the car to the road, it would be easier to get out later. But looking at the steepness of the hill, there was no way I was going to drive that car backwards.

For three years, I didn’t even make an attempt. I always parked it forward. It would be easier for me to go in, but harder for me to get out. I cringed at the fact that I was so afraid, but the anxious driver in me was relieved.

But one spontaneous day, I decided to take the plunge. I thought to myself…

How am I ever going to know if I can do it… if I don’t even try?

So I did it. Down that hill I went; taking turns that didn’t make sense, almost hitting the frame of the carport as I went down. But I did it. I got in. The car didn’t hit one single thing.

As the weeks went on, I continued trying. No more forward parking for me. I practiced. Each time I parked the car, I got better. I made less turns, less adjustments, and my confidence was sky-rocketing. The more I practiced, the better I got at parking.

With my confidence at a high, I decided to push myself. I had never reverse parked in the dark before. I thought there was no other good time like the present, so I took the challenge.

Slowly easing down the driveway in the dark, I was unable to see a thing. My heart was beating rapidly.

Confident that I was getting somewhere, I let go of the brake.

To my horror, the car slammed into the mailbox. I had totally misjudged the distance of the car. I felt like slapping myself. I believed that I’d pushed myself too soon.

So why am I telling you this?

Because after that night, I wanted to give up reverse parking altogether.

When you practice something, you do it so you’re CLOSER to your desired outcome. There will be days when you don’t get it right, when you falter, when you feel like you’re going backwards.

But do you give up? NO. You keep going.

No matter what… don’t give up. Don’t stop practicing.

Don’t be bogged down by the mistakes you make when you write. Don’t give up when you get your work rejected, or when a submission fails to win a writing competition. The more you practice, the better a writer you’ll become. No matter what, don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep practicing.

How did you feel when you first learnt how to drive? Did your mistakes affect your self-confidence?

PRACTICE

Think about the first time you learned how to a drive a car, ride a bicycle, pilot a plane, or do something else you found difficult. For fifteen minutes, write about the anxiety you felt, the excitement, the emotions you experienced as you were learning. How did it feel when you made the right move, and most importantly, when you made a mistake? How did practicing get you through to the end? When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

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  • mariannehvest

    The first time I drove, I was thirteen and I was driving my great-uncles blue cadillac around the circular drive in front of the house. The drive was topped with oyster shells instead of gravel.  I can still hear the sound they made as I ran over them, crushing them into smaller and smaller pieces, as I drove around and around in a circle. They sounded sort of like gravel but a little smoother and quieter.  

    Uncle Billy rode beside me for the first three passes, and then got out and stood in the middle of the circle waving his hands every time I came back around to go again.  I was supposed to keep going until I was driving “right”. I wasn’t sure what that meant.  I knew I was to keep the hood ornament in line with the middle of the road, but there  was no line to mark the middle.  I was barefooted and my feet kept slipping off of the accelerator and the clutch.  I was dizzy. It was hot and I wasn’t going fast enough to get any breeze going through the car.  The car smelled like stale cigars, one of which was lying across the ashtray that protruded from the dash.  

    I don’t remember when I finished getting it “right”.  That was obviously a long time ago.  I do remember driving that same car on numerous errands, not more a few miles away and no one ever seemed to notice a thirteen year old driving.  I don’t think I looked sixteen but maybe I drove “right” enough to not be considered a threat to road safety.   

    • Juliana Austen

      This evoked a whole other time, I loved the details – the sound of the gravel, the smell of the car. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      Great practice. You “showed” emotion, rather than just “telling” it. I liked the way you wrote about the scenery – I was able to imagine myself right then and there.

      I really enjoyed your reference to “driving right”. Just like driving, when we practice writing we will want to get it “right”.. we spend hours working on a piece, not knowing whether there will be a positive outcome. But we need to learn that no matter the outcome, the practice itself will be a learning experience!

      Good job !

  • CRXPanda

    Learning To Drive

    I learned to drive at the age of twenty. I didn’t bother learning before, because I did not own a vehicle in which to drive, nor did I have friends with the tendency to loan theirs to me.

    I was working in an office building, and one day noticed a “car for sale” notice on the bulletin board. $900 one-owner. I looked at the posting every day that week. I contacted the seller, a father selling his son’s car because the son had moved onto a newer vehicle. I informed him that I was waiting for my tax return, so he requested a deposit. I gave him $100 of my rent money that day, knowing that the end of my time at the apartment was growing close, I was “over my head” broke, and figured I needed a vehicle if I were having to live anywhere else, walking to work would no longer be an option. I was anticipating my tax return to be an amount near to the price of the vehicle. When I finally received it two weeks later, I paid for the car and had a friend from work follow while my husband’s friend drove it to the apartment.

     I was taught by three men: my husband at the time, and two of his friends. My mother retained the title of “Intro to driving” teacher, but she was to critical and afraid that in my process of learning, that I would damage our one vehicle which we could not afford to repair, let alone live without.

    The technical aspects of a vehicle were not lost to me, I had been a mechanic for my mother  and was quite tech savvy in the eighties. I could multitask the steering and acceleration just fine. I did however, have a problem with learning how to operate a five-speed manual transmission. 

    I succeeded in damaging quite a few clutches in my day. To this day as a matter of fact. I can get the vehicle to move, but I always seem to burn up the clutch.

    My first lesson was reverse, out of the parking lot of my apartment building. Narrow parking space, but no other vehicles around to get in the way. I lived in the back, where no one wanted to park, near the defunct swimming pool and abandoned tennis courts. I practiced reverse and forward on the old 1981 Toyota over and over in this lot, littered with “speed bumps” of grass growing in cracks in the pavement. The lines painted on the asphalt were almost indiscernible. Finally after hours of practice, Brian the teacher at this time, instructed me to venture to the road. 

    My road was a twisted dead end. When I moved in a year before, there was no road past my apartment complex. Someone purchased the property and began a housing development. Currently, there was one house in the development, and many twisting roads and cul-de-sacs. This was the perfect “road course” for my practice. 

    Every day for two months I practiced on these roads. Armed with only a learners’ permit, and no license plate, I was lucky not to get a citation. There was a few officers that lived in the complex on the front-most apartments. They worked as part-time security for the complex. I think they understood what I was doing, so they never interfered with me.

    Another friend of my husband, Aaron, decided to place my vehicle on his insurance policy. I could own a car, but the laws would not allow me to tag a vehicle without insurance. With just a learners’ permit, the insurance company would not insure me. I created a catch-22 for myself. Aaron grew tired of the run-around and called his company and added me as if I were his 16 year old child. I was now a driver under his policy, and my car had a tag, insurance and I would be able to drive in traffic… with a licensed driver beside me, of course.

    A month after moving out of the apartment because I could no longer pay the rent, I still had not gone to the department of motor vehicles for my operator’s license. I had an argument with Aaron and he removed me from his policy. The tag plate belonged to me, as the registration showed…so he could not take it from me. There was no longer insurance so I had to go to the DMV for my license, so I could buy auto insurancde for myself. 

    I asked numerous friends to accompany me becasue I needed a licensed driver to drive legally…no one would. My sister in law only would help me if I let her use my car. I refused and decided to do as a friend of mine from a few years back did: go alone and lie about the other driver.

    I arrived at the least busy DMV office I knew of, in an area filled with brand new subdivisions and few people living in them. This DMV was very laid-back because of this. It was positioned in the corner office of an L-shaped strip mall. I told them I had an argument with my stepmother, and she left me for a bus-ride home. The  examiner asked me, “what if you don’t pass…how will you get home?” I answered, “I guess I’ll take the bus like she did”.  She accepted my lie and the road test began. 

    It was very easy, we parked in a parking space in the strip mall, I crossed the road at the street light, entered an apartment complex to do a 3-point turn, then returned to the office. I thought with a test so short, I may have failed in the initial parking because I didn’t get close enough to the curb, but after entering the building, my anticipation reached my mouth and I asked, “Did I pass??”… “Yes, you did”, the woman answered. I was relieved, and a few minutes later I received my first driver’s license and drove home. Proud of my accomplishment. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      As I read your practice, I kept thinking, “what’s next?”. It really drew me in. Like many novels and films, there are characters who go through a lot of heartache and all the consumer wants is for them to have a happy ending. I felt that your piece accomplished that.

      Good practice!

  • Barbarjo

    I didn’t learn to drive until I was 50. I took lessons, etc. and every time I got behind the wheel, my left leg would shake until I stopped the car. I practiced and practiced and finally after a couple of years, the shaking stopped.

    When I received my first license I hugged the dear lady I was so excited.

    Have to admit, I still don’t like to drive but do it when necessary.

    This post is really great as I am at the point in my writing where I’m floundering and trying to get to the “next level”. I will keep practicing both my driving and my writing.Wonderful post and thank you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      Your comments definitely brought me back to 6 years ago – I remember smiling when I received my license as well. 

      It’s nice hearing others reminisce about their experiences. Even through your few sentences, I could really imagine how you felt. When we practice, a positive outcome feels very rewarding.Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Juliana Austen

    The Lesson

    He slouched down in his car seat, pulling
    his cap over his eyes. His mother sat upright peering over the steering wheel
    at the road ahead, she was so short that even in this ridiculous little heap of
    junk she needed a cushion at her back. She pulled into the empty parking lot.

    “Ok!” she said brightly. “This will do.”
    She unbuckled and opened the car door to walk around to the passenger’s side.

    He grunted and slid over the hand brake
    into the driving seat, tossing her cushion into the back.

    She buckled up and began to go over the
    procedure again.

    “Foot on the brake, start the engine,
    clutch to the floor, engage first gear, ease of the clutch at the same time
    lightly increase pressure on the accelorater.

    He turned the key and the engine started,
    “Heap of junk” he thought.

    He revved the engine, put her in gear and
    the car lurched forward, the engine screamed and died, they were both slammed
    against their seat belts. His eyes widened.

    “Ok” she said calmly. “Try again.” She
    smiled encouragingly at him.

    He turned the engine on and put her in gear
    – they lurched forward again, the engine stalled.

    “Better.” She said. “It’s a delicate
    balance, just enough accelorator balance it with the clutch coming out.”

    He nodded and tried again this time the car
    kept going and they lurched across the car park in a series of bunny hops.

    “There you go!” she said. “Try again”.

    He smiled and this time concentrated hard
    on that delicate balance between power and clutch.

    “Practice.” She said “It just takes
    practice.”

    “Now what?” he said as the engine whined.

    “You need to change into second, this will
    be much easier, you can be quicker with it.”

    He turned to her and grinned with delight
    as the little car moved briskly around the car park.

    “Well done”. She said and saw the sulky boy
    dropping away, a glimpse of the man he would become. 

    • http://thewritepractice.com/ John Fisher

      This made me laugh as I remembered the first time I tried to drive a “stick shift” — I almost threw my uncle out of his own truck!  Well told with rich detail.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

        Agree with you, John! Very well told.

      • Julianausten

        Thank you! Nothing teaches humility quite like a stick shift!

    • Marianne

      Bunny Hops! I love it. Also I like the patience of the mother in this. She’s a saint

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

        Agreed!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      Wow, I really enjoyed your practice! Your dialogue and description was spot on. Although both characters were evidently different, it was very easy to relate to both of them.

      I loved it!

    • http://twitter.com/JewelsCat Giulia Esposito

      I wish my mother had been so encouraging! Fifteen years later and she still clings to her seat for dear life whenever I drive. I especially liked how the boy gains confidence with each attempt he makes, growing up a little.

  • http://thewritepractice.com/ John Fisher

    My father taught me how to drive when I was sixteen, in the family sedan, a 1953 Oldsmobile Super 88, a huge, heavy car, but which had power steering and power brakes and automatic transmission, all of which made it fairly easy to drive — I could turn the steering wheel with one finger!  This caused me to be somewhat overconfident as we made our way down the country lanes in the area of Grandma’s place where we kept our horses, going to and from the daily feeding/grooming.  I was a boy, I had been car-crazy since forever, and how hard could it really be?!  This was fun!

    I found out how easy it was to be wrong the day I pulled over to the side of the road, completely forgetting about the deep culvert that ran alongside.  My father’s voice went to a higher pitch than I ever heard from him on any other occasion — “Watch out son you’re gonna run it in the  DITCH!”  If I had gone another couple of feet on that trajectory the car would’ve been on its side, and that would not have been good.

    But I remember another day, coming up that steep hill almost to Grandma’s, running about 40 miles an hour, enjoying the thrum of that big engine that I could both hear and feel — and just at the crown of that hill were two little kids on their bicycles, one on each side of the road, just being spasmoid little kids; one of them was about to enter the roadway.  I immediately took my foot off the gas, slowed w-a-a-a-y down using a light touch on the brake, and passed those kids on a crawl.  “Yes!”  said Dad.  “THAT’S the way to watch out! the way to avoid a tragedy.”  I think I grew up just a little bit in that moment.  I know I felt very good under my father’s gaze just then.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      Wow, great job, John. Your description of the car was great; I could tell that you were a car enthusiast even before you said so! 

      I like how you juxtapositioned two experiences – one positive, one negative – to reflect the growth of the character and their journey.

      Wonderful job!

      • http://thewritepractice.com/ John Fisher

        Thanks — I find it very enjoyable/challenging to write about experiences almost forgotten.  The effort brings them back to life.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

          Exactly! It forces us to relive memories that were otherwise hazy. The more we write about it, the more we remember.

          Your practice reminded me of my own experience, actually. My dad was once a driving instructor so the pressure was always on!

    • mariannehvest

      It seems like learning to drive  was a complicated process.  I like your description especially the part in the first paragraph about how powerful the car was but how easy it was to steer. That must have been a great car.  

      • http://thewritepractice.com/ John Fisher

        …..mainly complicated in my case by my teenage impetuousness and already-advanced romance with cars . . . .  That seems like so long ago, heck it WAS long ago — another age really, and the cars had a completely different feel than cars today.  It was before the fuel crunches & such, and big, powerful cars built in Detroit ruled the day; they were great cars, but the gas mileage they got wasn’t what is expected now —  I’d kind-of hate to have to buy fuel for such a car at today’s prices!

  • Jeff Ellis

    My experience with the power of practice was more intimate than most. In my junior year of high school I was introduced to life with crippling Anxiety Disorder. Even more fun, the constant anxiety spiked my blood pressure to dangerous levels. At 16 I was on the same HBP medications most of my friends’ grandparents were taking, not to mention a heavy dose of anti-depressants.

    The anxiety manifested itself in strange ways. I would spend days doing literally nothing just to avoid having a panic attack. When I was at school I would get my assignments from my teachers and then spend the rest of the period adding numbers together on a blank sheet of notebook paper. I would add two numbers, take the sum of them, mirror it, and add those two numbers together ad infinity. I did this to shut my brain off, because any thought that got in would trigger a panic attack.

    This was my life for three straight months. School, couch, television, sleep (on the couch, because walking up to my room scared me), school, repeat. And all of this without REASON. I wasn’t AFRAID of things. The logical part of my mind would tell me that nothing was wrong, that none of these things were scary at all, but my reptilian brain would go into overdrive and send me into a sweaty, scared, shell of myself. It was awful and I could feel myself becoming an ancient shut-in at the dawning of what should have been my most adventuresome years.

    So I decided to stop. To stop doing this. No more worrying, chemical or otherwise. If my body wanted to panic, to attack itself, let it. I didn’t care anymore. I wasn’t going to lose my youth before it started.

    The next day I got off the couch and played some video games upstairs. That night I slept in my own bed. When I went to school the next day, I refused to sink into my obsessive number crunching. Slowly, but surely I crawled out of the nightmare I had made for myself. It was incredibly difficult. I relapsed often, but I had an image of myself: happy, free, successful, and I wasn’t going to let that be a lie (I still work towards this image to this day. It’s always changing.)

    Two things happened after I started trying: it started to get much much easier to control my panic attacks, and I saw my life not only improve for the better, but for the best. In having my life broken down, I realized not just the new things that were holding me back, but things that had been bringing me down for years. I made new friends, moved away from my asshole middle-school buddies, and I joined Theater. Not only did I begin performing in my school’s plays (this from a kid who was afraid to sleep in his own bed a few months ago) but I met my first girlfriend and was introduced to all the things that means. I became a regular kid again. More so, I became happy.

    All of this from trying, failing, trying, failing, and trying again. From practice. And of course, medication, but they took me off of that shortly after and now 7 years later, I’m still panic-free. Because while I axed the meds, I kept the mentality. And without the practice, I never would have developed the mentality.

    • Juliana Austen

      I salute you Jeff! You have overcome a crippling illness and by sheer force of will and COURAGE overcome it.

      • http://twitter.com/1stwordproblems Jeff Ellis

        Thank you Juliana. 

        I still get mild panic attacks to this day, but I have read extensively on how to control my thoughts and I have practiced how to push the fear away. What I think many people want, and even expect, is a single thing that can resolve Anxiety Disorder once and for all. Sadly it doesn’t work that way.

        You have to cherish the small successes (like playing video games instead of laying on a couch, staring at a wall because you’re too scared to do so much as read a book) and not let the small failures be your undoing. Eventually the little victories will add up and life will get better, I promise!

        Haha, sorry, getting preachy. Thank you for your kind words Juliana. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      Wow, Jeff, what an incredible and heartfelt confession. Yes, no matter what we do, whether it be in our personal or professional life; we need practice to achieve them.

      I can definitely relate to what you’ve shared; I was in a really dark place 7 years ago and I found that by helping others, I got through it. That’s why I write about personal development now – I want to help others lead happier lives.

      Your practice here is a great example of why we write – to express who we are and the experiences that we’ve been through. 

      Thank you, Jeff!

      • http://twitter.com/1stwordproblems Jeff Ellis

        You are so right about helping others being a reward in of itself, Thuy. I find that sitting down with my friends and talking out there trouble often leads to me resolving issues of my own. We’re all in it together!

        Thanks so much for your kind words and I’m glad that you’re sharing your experience with others. It’s the best gift we as writers can give.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

          That is so true – I am absolutely proud to be a writer! 

    • http://thethoughtfulbuttonhook.wordpress.com/ Kate Hewson

      Well done, Jeff, that’s awesome!
      I had anxiety too, for about ten years, and a few times it spiraled down into depression. It took my kids, a book (Harry Potter!?!) and the friends I met online through that to help pull me out. I am in awe of your positivity and determination to pull yourself out – very impressive!

      • Jeff Ellis

        Thanks Kate!

        It’s very easy for anxiety to spiral into other things. In the thick of it, I had anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. It was a doozy and I still struggle with echoes of these things today, but I’ve learned a great deal about staying positive, as I’m sure you have too!

        Strong friendships are a great way to overcome mental strife. There are a lot of people out there going through every manner of trouble and coming together to talk about our pain can be a wonderful tonic :) I’m so glad you were able to overcome your troubles!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

    Just wanted to say that I’m so proud of ALL of you – it takes a lot of courage to put your work out there to be critiqued, so good on you! :)

    Here is my practice:

    I remember clutching onto that green folder like a child attached to their safety blanket. Inside was my learner’s permit, the piece of paper that signalled the beginning of a new era. I was 17, months from starting University; the pressure was on to pass that test. I wasn’t so sure I could.

    My father, a former driving instructor, had taught my older brothers how to drive. Over the years, they had shared their horrible experiences with me. Their stories didn’t put my mind at ease, they just heightened my fears of what our lessons would be like.

    I remember my heart beating like never before; feeling embarrassed about making the simplest of mistakes with my father in the car. There was so much pressure knowing that my brothers had driven with manual transmission, I only with automatic. The weight on my shoulders resembled a tonne of bricks.

    “You shouldn’t be hitting the curb, after all these weeks of practicing!”, my father shouted at me.

    I bit my lip, attempting to stifle my anger.

    “I know..” I mumbled under my breath, as my mother and sister looked on passively.

    The whole drive home was done in pure silence. I couldn’t stand to look at my father. Not only was I disappointed at myself for doing the wrong thing, but I felt humiliated at everyone being able to watch it too. I didn’t feel like driving ever again.

    But that feeling didn’t stay with me forever.

    After months of practice, my heart didn’t have to beat in fear anymore. I passed the test and in my 6 years of driving, I have never had a car crash. I haven’t even come close to having one.

    With all the practice my father gave me, I am not surprised.

    • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

      I love your post, Thuy!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

        Thanks, Katie! Glad you enjoyed it! 

    • mariannehvest

      That was well told.  I can see you driving and him fussing at you as you mother and sister sit and watch. You caught the humiliation of learning a new task in front of an audience. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

        Thank you! Yes, it was very nerve-wracking with most of the family sitting with me. But you live and learn hey! 

  • Karen Cunningham77

    Never in my darkest nightmares did I ever see myself behind the wheel of a school bus. However, desperation will drive us to places we’d rather not be. I needed a part time job. The local school system was hiring. Some of my friends already drove for them.

    “It’s just like driving a car, once you get used to it,” they said.

    What they didn’t elaborate on was the ‘getting used to it’ part.

    There were several hoops to jump through first, a drug test and background check. They wanted references and I had to be fingerprinted. Before training even began, I had to take the test for a provisional Commercial Driver’s License.

    My trainer was a talkative woman, named LeeAnn. She showed me around the bus and pointed out the parts an examiner would expect me to know. Then, like any mother teaching a child to drive, she drove the snub-nosed bus out to a big, empty parking lot.

    “Here you go,” she said unbuckling her seat belt. “You already know how to drive, you just have to get used to the size.”

    “Exactly how big is it?” I asked.

    “Forty feet long, eleven and a half tall and eight wide. Oh, and it weighs about fifteen tons.”

    I took a deep breath and buckled myself into the driver’s seat. A glance at the mirror showed me the length of the bus. It was a surreal moment. I shifted into drive and pressed the accelerator. Nothing happened. The bus stayed where it was.

    LeeAnn laughed. “You need to let the spring break off before it’ll go anywhere.”

    Profoundly embarrassed but glad I hadn’t broken anything, I pushed the break knob in. The accelerator worked much better after that, and the bus shot forward. After I got the hang of driving in a straight line, LeeAnn gave me some pointers about making turns, and how to keep the rear tires from running over curbs, mailboxes and people standing on the side of the road.

    The next training day we took the bus out on the road, but not just any road. Acton Road, is narrow, and curvy, with tree-lined ditches on both sides. There’s a hairpin turn in the middle of it. My heart was in my throat. I drove at the same speed you would expect from a ninety-year-old with vision problems. By the time we reached the hairpin, I was beginning to feel better about it. The bus was still on the road, I’d only let the back tires run off the side once. Most of the cars coming the opposite way had given me a little room.

    This isn’t going to be so bad, I thought. That’s when I saw the dump truck flying around the hairpin, and realized we would have to pass each other in the narrow part of the road, just before it.
    I think my heart stopped. I expected the sound of screeching metal and breaking glass, but didn’t hear any. LeeAnn, who had been talking the whole time, didn’t miss a word. All I wanted to do was to find a place to pull the bus over and let her drive it back to the transportation office. The trouble was, there wasn’t any place to pull over, so I just kept driving. After my hands stopped shaking, it got easier again.

    As chance would have it, or maybe not, that road became part of my regular route. Driving it with a bus full of somebody else’s children gave me nightmares for a couple of months. I would literally drive it in my sleep. Maybe that was my psyche’s way of teaching me.

    That was eight years ago. Now, I drive that road every day, taking my load of middle school students to class and home again, safely. Practice has made all the difference. My friends were right when they said it would be just like driving a car once I got used to it.

    A few other things I’ve learned from this experience are how to focus, and to respect the process. With writing, you need to look where you want to go, to decide what it is you want your work to say. Respect for the process, means it doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, practice, and making mistakes is part of that. If you make one, learn from it, and just keep on driving.

    • http://KatieAxelson.com/ Katie Axelson

      Yikes! When I was in New Orleans a few years back, I got to chat with a bus driver who said she’s more comfortable in her bus than in her car. She’ll back the bus down the street without flinching even.

      Great piece, Karen. I love how you shared an experience most of us don’t have.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=577106571 Thuy Yau

      Wow, great job, Karen! I loved it!

      I really enjoyed your use of description and the way you reflected back on your experience. And the literal and figurative use of this line was awesome: “desperation will drive us to places we’d rather not be”.

      Great practice!