The trail itself isn’t hard (3.4 miles round trip, with only a few steep spots), but the sudden change in elevation made this Texas girl dizzy at first. My husband marched on, no problem, but I made us stop several times to rest. We got hot and sweaty, then it rained on us and we got cold and tired. I wasn’t sure I could make it the top, then, I had an epiphany to help you and me both…
Writing a novel is a lot like climbing a mountain.
Here’s a few reasons why:
Learn to Live with the Unknown
Atalaya Mountain does not have mile markers, so I never knew how far we’d traveled, or how much further we had left to go. The #1 question that kept running through my head as I pressed one was, how much longer?
I asked myself that over and over, but with different emotions behind it: whiny, angry, and sometimes with complete desperation.
The same is true for writing. You constantly question yourself:
When will this story be finished?
Is it any good?
Will readers like it?
Despite all these unknowns, you must keep going. Your story is close to ‘publication ready’ when you start winning contests with that piece, are offered literary representation or publication, or when qualified, unbiased beta readers tell you it’s ready. It’s time to release your story into the world and start a new when one you’re just moving commas around.
Connect to Others on the Same Journey
I’m a talker. My husband is not. I said hello to everyone we passed up and down the mountain. They most always smiled and said hi back.
When it got to the point I wasn’t sure I’d make it, and there was yet another happy hiker almost skipping down the mountain, I’d stop and ask them, “How much longer?”
Their responses encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to quit.
Unfortunately, other writers can’t give you an exact answer on how much longer? However, I’m still a firm believer in writing friendships (online and when possible, in person) for camaraderie, for guidance, and for reassurance. I can name you several true-blue online friends I’ve made since starting Mudpie Writing who help keep me focused on my dreams.
We write alone, but we flourish under the right set of writers.
The Struggle is Worth It
There’s only way up that mountain.
You must hike it.
There’s only way to finish your story.
You must write it, one word at a time.
Nobody’s going to ring your doorbell and hand you first prize for your poem, offer you a book contract for your novel, or give you a five-star review if you haven’t finished your story. Just do it, despite the self-doubt, fear and frustration.
The courage and commitment it takes to be a writer is 100% worth the hassles. I’m reminding myself this constantly as I pen novel #2 in the Pennies from Burger Heaven series that I plan to publish it 2016.
I hope you’ll join me on your own journey. Together, we can reach the top.