Monday, October 17, 2011

Climbing Mountains

Disclaimer: I know the formatting in this post is messed up, but I can't get it to work right. Sue me.

When I was younger, I was that kid.

You know, that kid.

The one who's always climbing trees and rocks and buildings and freaking parents out.

So last week, while camping with friends Caitlin, Alex, and Nick, Nick and I decided to climb the side of the canyon opposite our campsite. It was basically a mountain, with sheer rock walls that reared high above the canyon's bottom.

Alex said, "You can't climb that."

Nick and I said, "Yes we can."

Alex said, "It's bigger than it looks. Trust me, I spent two months in the wilderness last year. You're not going to be able to climb it."

Far from deterring us, Alex's skepticism just made Nick and I more determined to reach the top. I've had a similar experience with writing before, as I'm sure many of you have. There are people who will encourage you to give up. They'll say, "You're never going to get published, the market is too bad. And even if you do your book will flop. Why not choose a more lucrative career?" Whenever someone takes this attitude with me, I simply smile and shake my head. Why? Because I'll show them. I'll get published someday, and my book won't be a flop. I use their doubt as motivation to keep writing.

Nick and I encountered setbacks on the mountain, which took us several hours to climb. It was (as Alex had said) larger than it looked. We ended up forcing our way through patches of bushes, resulting in this:

And climbing rock walls where a single slip meant certain death, such as this:

As Nick so kindly reminded me, "Don't worry, if you slip, you'll just die."

The hike was long and we forgot to bring water, and if it weren't for Nick I doubt I would've completed it on my own. He pushed me to keep going. Building off my tenuous writing metaphor, Nick is like my critique partners and writing friends. They encourage you to continue writing, no matter how down you might feel, and they push you to make your story even better. In the end, Nick and I reached the top of the mountain and tasted sweet victory:

Writing a book is like climbing a mountain. It's hard, it hurts, and it's all uphill, but when you reach the top there's no better feeling in the world. There will be people who encourage you, and people who tell you to give up. My advice for today is to use both of these to your advantage. When someone doubts your ability to complete a book or get published, allow their skepticism to motivate you. Prove them wrong. And when someone comforts or encourages you, recognize how lucky you are to have writer friends who understand, then use that friendship as a stable foundation for your writing life.

I just read back through this post and it sounds really stupid. Oh well. I'm posting it anyways :). How was everyone's week?


  1. Good week so far. Thanks for posting!

    This reminds me of the hike I took a few years back. Up Mt Timpanogos. Nearly killed me. Not really, but it was well worth the climb. Found great inspiration for a book up there. :)

  2. Your post doesn't sound stupid. It's all so true. And, it makes me want to climb a mountain, and write a book. Maybe at the same time.

  3. Congratulations on climbing that mountain. I could never have done that. I'd be dead on the rocks.

  4. Good on you for sticking to it and climbing that mountain. I love how your post relates dealing with a difficult task to the way to handle the difficulties faced on our path to publication. Very inspiring.

  5. Your post is not stupid at all. It's a great metaphor for the writer's journey. Congrats on climbing your mountain - real and figurative - and reaching the top!

  6. I understand the analogy completely. But I don't know about climbing any mountains. :)

  7. Ah! It looks so fun!

    I recently climbed a few mountains. Some in Maine and some in Ireland.

    I also recently finished a few manuscripts.

    Maybe they are related :)

  8. Ooh, I like it! Both the climb and the metaphor, especially the part about dying. Nothing like understated drama.

  9. No, that wasn't a stupid post at all!!! That is a very good metaphor, and completely true!

    But if you HAD died, we all would have been very sad. So, you know...don't die :)