Your Writing Black Belt

Much like every other nonpractitioner, I thought that gaining your black belt meant that you were in.  You were done, your goal accomplished.  As I actually started practicing an art, I found out it was the first real step.  Your black belt showed everyone that you were serious about your art.  Then, you really started learning.  To me, writing’s black belt is your first sold work.

What of we kups (colored belts) who are struggling, practicing and fighting every day to earn our writer’s black belt?  While I’m writing this, my first book waits patiently for attention.  By the time this post hits the internet, I may be done with it, but for now, I work, I struggle and I train.  I improve my art and my craft.  It’s discouraging, it’s hard, it’s pure amazement.  I read the first chapters of my book and am aghast at the immaturity of the writing.  I was discouraged until I realized how far I must have come since writing those first words.  If I was still that writer, I would be oblivious to the flaws in my early works.  More importantly, now I know how to fix them.  For the first time, I see my path to the end.

I can actually do this.  All of you can actually do this.

I have two main intentions for this blog.  First, I want to improve my craft by sharing my learning.  Senior kups eventually begin teaching the junior kups as a way to improve by sharing their knowledge with others.  The 500 word limit to each post forces brevity, improving my craft.  Second, I want to start discussions.  I would be thrilled if this blog attracts a significant following, but even if only one person reads my thoughts and wants to share their own, I’ll be happy.

My name is Nathan Barra and I am a writer.  I may not be published, I may not have won any awards, but I am a writer.  I get grouchy when I go too long without writing.  As it turns out, that’s not very long at all.  I am almost always thinking about my stories, simmering them, as I like to call it.  Writing is not what I do, it’s who I am and I know that I’m not the only one out there.  I have met many talented, unpublished writers who, like me, are working towards their black belt.  I remember when I realized I could be published.  I was listening to an audiobook and getting increasingly frustrated.  To my point of view, the author made several big mistakes and I knew how I could fix them.  I stopped in the middle of the staircase I was climbing, to the chagrin of those behind me.  I could do this.

So, fellow kups, are you ready to admit it?  Despite being unpublished, are you a writer or not?  Let’s work towards our black belts together.  If nothing else, the journey will be fun.

Beginning the Discussion:  What was the moment you realized that you don’t just write, but are a writer?


2 Responses

  1. Nathan,
    Your black belt first level comes from finishing a story, any story. Most people who want to write don’t get that far.

    I considered myself a writer long before my first story was published. It was the moment when I typed “The End” on the first novel for me. The idea that I could be a professional writer came much later.Publishing my short stories after that. But all that time I was a writer.

    You can do this.

    • Nathan Barra says:


      Thanks for the encouragement! I can see your point, but it seems our opinions are just a difference in threshold. For me, the black belt in martial arts is as much a declaration to one’s peers as a personal accomplishment, hence my assertion that the writer’s black belt is the first sold work. To me the first completed work would be your white belt, the beginning of the journey. What are your thoughts?

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