Journey from Aspiring Dreamer to Hardened Professional Author
One of the goals of this blog has always been to prepare new writers and develop professionals. In order to do this, I blog on any number of topics, ranging from social media to search engines, craft to family. Some posts are just to give you a laugh because Lord knows we always need more of those. Writers are human beings, and, if we focus only on one aspect of our growth, we can become unbalanced or even deformed.
When it comes to developing/ growing from that wide-eyed dreamer with a gift for words and transforming into a pro who can withstand the unrelenting crucible of this business, balance is vital. Why? I can tell you from experience that when we reach the mountain’s “summit”, the view is breathtaking…until we see the next mountain, the taller mountain. Oh, and to reach the top of that taller mountain, it means…
Another trip through the valley. *head desk*
Just Do It
I despise the term “aspiring writer.” We don’t “aspire” to get out of the chair. Either we sit or we stand. We choose and no one can make that decision but us. I prefer the term “pre-published” writer, because this makes us accountable and shifts our thinking. To continue the metaphor of mountain-climbing, there is a transition every climber goes through…from looking at pictures of people on top of Mt. Everest to making the decision to DO IT.
This person might be at the gym training, lifting weights, doing cardio, perhaps even learning to climb on walls and developing the strength, endurance and flexibility to climb a mountain. Training is key.
We can’t just buy a bunch of fancy gear and show up in Nepal unless we really want to DIE. Climbing a mountain is a lot like successfully publishing. There are no shortcuts. We can’t pay guides to do what we must do ourselves. Yes, sherpas are key, but they can’t make the climb for us. They are there to assist.
But we still must make the initial decision to go for it.
Then we train.
If We’re Comfortable We Aren’t Growing
I have never climbed a mountain, but I did live my teens and twenties like a Mountain Dew commercial (and feel that every time the weather changes). I used to rock climb and go bouldering. Bouldering is particularly terrifying because boulders are BIG and they are ROUND. Round is particularly terrifying because to comes with BLIND SPOTS.
Bouldering is used to hone skills for bigger climbs. It develops strength, callouses, flexibility, and teaches that sometimes we have to reach for what we can’t see.
The going up the boulder is scary enough, but the coming down? THAT’S when it gets truly terrifying. Look down? That’s when you see how far you could really fall, and since bouldering is done without ropes? Ouch. And though it might sound cliche…don’t look down. Another interesting part of bouldering is one must reach hands and feet into the unseen and trust you can grab hold.
Same with writing. We will have to reach into the unseen or remain stuck. We have to let go of one place to make it to the next and there are no guarantees, which is why it is important to…
Have a Network of Support
I’m sure there are lone writers out there who eat nails for breakfast and spit them out as mega-best-selling novels, but they’re rare. These guys remind me of free-soloing climbers. These climbers scale huge rock faces using strength and body position to stay on the rock without the use of ropes.
I did this once…and slid a good fifty feet down a rock face, bruising, cutting and scraping every exposed area of my body. In my opinion, there are two types of free-soloers…Grand Champion and Stuff on a Rock. After getting a taste of being Stuff on a Rock? Ropes were AWESOME from that point on. Ego wasn’t worth it.
Same in writing. It’s one of the reasons I created the WANA community on Facebook and #MyWANA on Twitter and even WANATribe (a social network for writers and creative professionals). We need help. We need
ropes other writers to be there when we are scraped and bruised and even when we fall. Because if we don’t fall, then we really aren’t trying that hard.
If we have a system of support, then falls can be setbacks instead of catastrophes. Writing has historically been a lonely and solitary profession because of the nature of our world. Now? We can choose. Other writers can anchor us, be there to lift us.
We can return the favor. We can also learn from writers who’ve scaled this mountain before. We don’t have to reinvent a new path. The top of the mountain remains pretty much the same. No one cares how we get there, so long as we get there.
Does anyone question the team with the group shot on the top of K-2? Do they say, “Well, you slid at least twenty times and nearly fell into an ice cave. Oh and then there was that delay because of weather. And you had to have a team of sherpas to help you. Your summit doesn’t count.” No. Either we finish the book or we don’t. Whether it took ten revisions, or a hundred, no one cares.
All they care about is, did we
The Air Gets Thinner The Higher We Climb
Sure the view is breathtaking, but nothing grows at the top of the mountain. No one can live there. The air is too thin, the terrain too unstable, the weather too brutal, and there’s no food at the top of the mountain.
Each work is it’s own climb. Maybe it’s a short story (boulder) to train for bigger things. But I feel many of us (and I was guilty, too) believe that we can live on the summit, that the summit means we have made it and it will somehow be easier. This is a lie. When you land an agent, it’s the beginning of a new mountain. When we finish a book or even make a best-seller list, it only makes way for a new mountain. No one stays at the top of a best-seller list indefinitely.
We can’t live there.
The summit of any endeavor should be savored and rejoiced, but it comes with the acceptance that now we have to climb back into the valley because the valley is for the living and the growing ;).
What are your thoughts? Have you ever metaphorically slid down a cliff on your face? What did you learn? Are you grateful for new challenges or overwhelmed?
***For some guidance and training regarding mountain climbing becoming successfully published, feel free to check the announcements below.
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
ANNOUNCEMENTS, AGENTS & FREE STUFF:
Thinking about attending #WANACon or already signed up?
On Wednesday, check out a FREE presentation by one of WANACon’s presenters, Gabriela Pereira, on: “How to Get the Most Out of A Conference.”
– To join the presentation, go to WANA International’s site at 8PM Eastern (New York) time / 5pm Pacific (Seattle) time.
– On the right sidebar, select “WANACon Open House – Feb 12, 2014” from the drop-down box under “Conference Hall A”.
– Enter your name and the password “welcome”, and then click “Join.”
Click here to ADD THIS EVENT to your Google calendar.
The Open House starts one hour earlier if you want to work out tech gremlins, check out the classroom, or visit with others.
Join us at WANACon (THE global virtual writing conference) on February 21 & 22, use promo code “Valentine” for $15 off the registration fee this week. Three agents covering almost every fiction category are also taking pitches in private, virtual, webcam & audio-capable meeting rooms.
And if you sign up, REMEMBER to enter the Rafflecopter this week for your chance to win a refund of your conference registration fee!