We're happy to be hosting Steve Bein today as part of his blog tour for Daughter of the Sword. After his post there is a giveaway for one copy of Daughter of the Sword and also make sure to check out Kirsten's review.
The Fighter in the Writer, part two
In my previous post on this subject, I talked about how twenty years in the martial arts have shaped me as a writer. Some of the benefits are obvious—whenever I write about fighting, I know whereof I speak—but others are unexpected. The unexpected benefit I want to talk about this time around is that grim little demon in you that won’t let you quit when quitting is the only sensible thing to do.
My first sensei had a plaque hanging on the dojo wall, a gift he’d received. It says that of every ten students to take a martial arts class, only one still comes back after the first month. Of every ten who come back, only one is still around after the first year. Of every ten of those, only one ever earns a black belt, and of every ten black belts only one goes on to teach the art to others. That’s the sensei: one in ten thousand. It’s a cool plaque, and a very cool gift, but as a writer I’m not sure 10,000:1 odds sound all that bad.
A lot more than 10,000 people are going to submit novels this year in hopes of quitting their day jobs and writing full time. Odds are none of them is going to make it. Some will get agents, get published, get multi-book deals, but if putting food on the table every week is one of your goals, then if you’re a rational human being you won’t pick writing as your sole source of income. Writing is, in point of fact, one of those things where they tell you, “Don’t quit your day job.”
Ditto for actors, artists, and musicians. One piece of advice for the newbie might be, “Be realistic.” Take that advice with caution. If you’re realistic, you know this hobby of yours will probably never be more than that: a hobby, never likely to make you a dime, and even if it does bring in a dime or two, they’ll never be enough to quit your day job. That’s the reality. Reality also says a scrawny guy like me—a guy who never showed a moment’s athletic prowess in his life, who didn’t even start his training until adulthood, who wasn’t known for patience or tolerance or endurance, and in fact was known for exactly the opposite—could never earn a black belt.
The only rational reason I had to keep going was that I liked the people I trained with. They were all badder than me. The guy who got me into training is a graduate of the Rocky Balboa School of Pain Tolerance and the point man on a SWAT team. I’m a pencil-neck philosophy professor. And I still get on the mat with that guy. There’s no rational reason for that. In fact, there are hundreds of perfectly rational reasons not to do it.
And so it is with writing. No, scratch that. It’s easy to keep on writing; I do it because I like it. But the motivation to keep submitting stories isn’t rational. What keeps me doing it is that grim little demon I seem to have picked up at some point in my martial arts career, the one that tells me quitting is the only thing that makes sense and that I’m not allowed to quit anyway.
Steve Bein (pronounced "Bine") is an author, philosopher, professor, climber, photographer, translator, and world traveler. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Interzone, Writers of the Future, and in international translation. Daughter of the Sword, his first novel, is already being met with critical acclaim and is due out this October.
Steve was born in Oak Park, Illinois, a near west suburb of Chicago. His first career as a perpetual student took him to universities in Illinois, Germany, Japan, and Hawai‘i. That all culminated in a PhD in philosophy from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Today Steve is a visiting professor of Asian philosophy and Asian history at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he also teaches courses in philosophy and science fiction.
His other academic interests include bioethics, which led him to a short stint as a visiting researcher at the Mayo Medical School, and environmental philosophy, which led him to see polar bears in Canada and penguins and whales in Antarctica. His more recent travels have taken him to historical sites and art museums around the Mediterranean and to wildlife preserves all across southern Africa.
Steve is a rock climber, mountaineer, SCUBA diver, skier, and avid traveler, and he enjoys just about anything he can do outdoors. He has dabbled in a wide range of martial arts (twenty-five at last count) and he holds black belts in two American forms of combative martial arts. These days he has returned to studying Brazilian Jiujitsu.
Today Steve splits his time between Rochester, Minnesota and Rochester, New York. He lives with Michele, his partner of seventeen years, and their Labs, Kane and Buster.
Mariko Oshiro is not
your average Tokyo cop. As the only female detective in the city’s most
elite police unit, she has to fight for every ounce of respect,
especially from her new boss. While she wants to track down a rumored
cocaine shipment, he gives her the least promising case possible. But
the case—the attempted theft of an old samurai sword—proves more
dangerous than anyone on the force could have imagined.
owner of the sword, Professor Yasuo Yamada, says it was crafted by the
legendary Master Inazuma, a sword smith whose blades are rumored to have
magical qualities. The man trying to steal it already owns another
Inazuma—one whose deadly power eventually comes to control all who wield
it. Or so says Yamada, and though he has studied swords and
swordsmanship all his life, Mariko isn’t convinced.
skepticism hardly matters. Her investigation has put her on a collision
course with a curse centuries old and as bloodthirsty as ever. She is
only the latest in a long line of warriors and soldiers to confront this
power, and even the sword she learns to wield could turn against her.