Sunday, June 1, 2008

How is Writing a Novel Like Climbing a Mountain?

You stand at the bottom of the mountain and all you can see is this huge, sheer rock face, and all you know is that somehow you've got to make it to the top. Standing back and looking at it is frightening--the rock face is so smooth and the top is so far away.

You take a deep breath and you move in closer. You start nosing around at the bottom of the rock wall, and you notice a few hand-holds, and a little way up there's a ledge you could probably get to if you try.

But you have to get in close in order to see these things. You have to get so close that you can't quite even see the top anymore. You know it's there, and as you start to climb, you start to believe that you will reach the top. You don't know exactly how yet, because each step on the way up puts you in a different place, and you have to look around and evaluate, figure the best way to continue depending on where you are and what the lay of the land is. You don't know how long it will take, either, because you have no idea what the next day's climb will reveal.

Sometimes the mountain presents you with choices--an easy way and a not-so-easy way. And you can't always see ahead far enough to know which way will be best. Only know that the easy way isn't always the best way, and you can learn a lot from taking a risk. And if taking a risk doesn't work out, you can always backtrack to the last safe ledge and take a breather, look around again, and reevaluate.

Sometimes you realize, part way up, that you're climbing a completely different mountain that you thought you were. And sometimes when you get to the top, you find that the view is completely different from how you imagined it would be.

Sometimes you decide partway up that you don't want to climb this particular mountain, or that you cannot continue because there are simply no more hand-holds.

This is when you remind yourself that even though you won't reach the top of this particular mountain, you have kept in shape and improved your skills just by trying. And perhaps what you've learned will make the next mountain just a bit easier to climb.

6 comments:

Coco said...

Awesome analogy :)

Jazz said...

*blushing* Thank you...

Jazz said...

Er...not that I've ever climbed a mountain...

Clueless said...

And that was a beautiful analogy of life in general. Very moving. Thank you!!

Shiv said...

Brilliant piece of writing! And so well timed for me :)

~Shiv

Jazz said...

Thank you, Clueless!

Shiv, thanks, and hope you are inspired! I'll be interested to hear how it goes for you.