A friend, returning from a writers’ conference, told me she felt her writer’s journey was like climbing a mountain, with being published at its peak. The presenters at the conference were on that peak reaching down to help her up. While she found the conference and its faculty helpful, she felt the mountain was too high, and the gap between her and the peak still too great.
I told that friend she needed a new metaphor, a different analogy. If she climbs a mountain looking only to its peak, whether as her goal or for help in attaining it, she’s missing all the wonderful views from her spot on the mountainside. And once she reaches the peak, what next?
I see my writer’s journey as a road trip. Jon Egan used a similar analogy in his 11/26 post, referring to the “sometimes paved and easy to navigate” stretches as well as ones “dirty, full of potholes and ruts, and dangerous washouts.”
On any road trip (and I’ve been on many), you have to stop often to refuel, and perhaps charge your battery. Maybe you get your vehicle cleaned and polished for the next leg of your journey. For a writer, these stops are conferences and workshops. You re-energize yourself, polish your words, and mingle with other travelers who are on similar journeys. Some of them may give you insight about road conditions or tell you about a shortcut. But to get anywhere you have to keep driving (writing).
I have been on my road trip for a long time. I’ve hit some bad weather (rejections) and rough patches of road (writer’s block) more times than I’d like. And in current times, the road to publishing is terribly crowded. But I’ve seen gorgeous vistas (satisfying work, a poem published, contest prizes, as well as actual beautiful sights during research jaunts) and met many authors whose work I adore. I’ve made friends (including my fellow Swaggers), and it’s been a wonderful journey thus far, in spite of those occasional flat tires, lost fan belts, and traffic jams.
And, yes, we all hope that we will locate a contract—or several of them—(for a book or an article) as we travel. But those are not on a mountain peak. They’re just more stops along the way toward the real goal—reaching the heart of a reader.
So keep traveling, soak up the scenery, observe, pick up a souvenir or two, and enjoy the drive!
Kathy Cannon Wiechman