Many many years ago (I’m not actually going to tell you how many), when I had just finished my final exams in my final year at school and I was lounging around at home looking for things to do, I decided to teach myself how to juggle.
It was one of those random, spur-of-the-moment kind of things. Juggling seems like a pretty cool thing to be able to do. I wonder if I can do it.
So I grabbed a few golf balls lying around and gave it a try. The golf balls actually turned out to be an inspired choice. If I was to give anyone tips on how to learn to juggle, I reckon the first one would be start with golf balls. They’re really easy to catch – they just sink into your hands, allowing your fingers to firmly grasp hold of them. Lots of other balls (even the special juggling ones) bounce out of your hands, making them harder to catch – and if you want to get good at juggling, the first thing you need to be able to do is get good at catching.
I made pretty good progress. By the end of that first day, I could get a sequence of 10 juggles (or whatever the technical term is) with three balls fairly regularly. And by the next day, I could juggle those three balls fairly indefinitely most of the time. I even began working on a few variations – juggling two balls in one hand, various over and under combinations, and even under the leg (never could do it consistently but every so often I would nail it).
Even now, all those years later, I can pick up three balls and juggle them fairly easily. I’m nowhere near circus or even street entertainer standard, and to be honest it never impresses anyone much, but I kind of like the fact that I can do it.
I was particularly reminded of juggling this week as I was working on my latest novel (oh look, he managed to sneak a writing reference into this post). As previously mentioned, I’ve been trying something new with this story – it’s my first ever attempt at a dual narrative. Trying to keep control of both story strands as I move forward is a bit like juggling two balls in the air. So far, I’m pretty happy with how I’ve gone. While it’s still very much a first draft and therefore very rough, I feel like I’ve generally been able to manage a pretty good synchronisation between both strands.
Only thing is, this week when I took a close look at how it’s holding together, I realised there was actually another strand in there. Three strands. Three storylines I need to keep synchronised all the way through the novel. Three balls I need to keep juggling in the air. Sounds like a fairly complicated feat.
Luckily, three balls is exactly where the limit to my juggling ability lies, so I should be able to manage it.
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