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May 2, 2009

The Next Mountain

This time the revisions are going to do the trick. This time, I'll get the book right.

This mountain is the last in the range I have to climb. Then I'll be there.

Or so I tell myself.

I've told myself this before. On the last mountain. In fact, I've been telling myself since the first mountain. Just one more step. That will be enough.

Only, it's never enough. It's still not right. There's a mountain after this one. And another mountain. And another. The truth is, I have no idea how many more mountains I have to cross till I'm over the range. I thought the journey would be so much easier when I started out. If I had known how far I had to go, what a truly awful writer I was and how hard it was to become a good writer, would I have been able to start out on that journey?

Learning to write has taken me the same amount of time -- and effort -- and possibly even money -- as going to med school. For no degree and a lot less profit. If I had known that, might I have just elected to become a doctor instead? (Certainly, this is the point Certain Relatives kept trying to impress upon me.)

What if I had known how bad I was at the beginning, back when only adoring parents and teachers read my stuff and proclaimed me the Best Writer Ever? While highly unlikely it would have launched my medical career, it's possible I would have been too depressed to write. As it was, I had the immunity of youth. I heard people say you had to write a million words of dreck -- the equivalent of ten 100,000 word novels -- before achieving anything even close to mastery. Being a teenager, I assumed I was exempt. Because I was so good, you see. Natural talent would make it unnecessary for me to work as hard to achieve as much as soon as other writers. I still planned to work hard, but more from noblesse oblige than need.

I like to think that, if nothing else, I've learned to be able to hear how much further I still have to go without giving up.

Or maybe I'm just still trying to paint one leaf.


laughingwolf said...

writing is the toughest, and loneliest, of all the arts... but somehow we persevere, with hope :)

laughingwolf said...

Any person
who publishes a book
appears willfully
in the public eye...
with his pants down.

~Edna St.Vincent Millay

Traci said...

Move them mountains girl! ;-)

Natalie Whipple said...

I used to think I was a pretty awesome writer too, hehe. And the better I get, the more I feel like I suck. What is THAT about?

Ban said...

fortunately (for me) ... i never thought i was any good - just wrote for myself 'cause i had to remember that dream and then the next one ... oh, and that one's cool too, can't forget that one ! i can so understand what you're saying though, as i started to think about actually making a 'book' out of it all, i realized how inept i was. having no expectation of getting published (though i would love to one day) you would think i'd be better prepared to accept the 'i'll never be good enough to be published - guess i'll just give up now before i waste too much of myself' but i'm not ...

Scott said...

I agree with laughingwolf . . . "writing is the toughest, and loneliest, of all the arts . . . but somehow we persevere with hope"

I truly don't any writer started out thinking the were the absolute best writer in the Universe. We all have our humble beginnings. We all (well, at least I do) have a ton of manuscripts stuck in a closet or file drawer that we thought were the absolute best thing we had ever (or would ever) written. Talk about dreck! Let me tell you about my gazillion page manuscript in which I used the word 'most' at least a half gazillion times or more. No, I do not jest. I had sentences like "she had the most beautiful hair ever" or "he was the most intelligent . . ." or "the rain was most dreary today". Oh, the list goes on endlessly. Was the story bad? Probably not, but the writing was not the brilliance I imagined when I first started typing.

I truly think we all start at as somewhat bad writers and slowly hone our abilities until we are good, great, brilliant, outstanding, phenomanal . . . blah, blah, blah writers.

Keep revising. Keep climbing those mountains. At some point, however, you need to either shove the baby bird out of the next, or put it away and start on the next project.

I truly think, even after I'm published (hey, my comment, I can live in whatever deluded world I want :) )I'll look at the published work and think, "hey, this still needs some revising".

From what I've read on your blog, you are a talented writer. Believe in yourself.

And, as a plug, check out my post about 'Doubt' that I wrote yesterday.


Unknown said...

*huffs up mountain* I SO know that feeling! Here's hoping this Everest is the last!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Tara, it is a lonely, hard trek, I agree. And I'm afraid it won't get any easier. My recent conversations with you (which I appreciate more than you can imagine) have helped me realize how NOT close I am to anything I want to achieve in the end. But I'm okay with it. I'm enjoying the journey.

I get to the top of each mountain, and the view is amazing. I know it will keep getting better.

Attitude is everything. You have a good attitude and a positive outlook. I know you do. We can trek the mountains together. :D

Sherrie Petersen said...

Enjoy the climb because even when you think you've reached the top, there's more to scale. And I don't mean that in a bad way. It's just that it's a never ending climb. There never is any "top." So enjoy where you are, learn all you can and hold hands with friends along the way. That's what makes the journey worthwhile :^)

Flower said...

Tara, I wish I would have seen this post earlier. Hey girl, you are a great writer. I have read your stuff, you are very talented and you have pushed through some tough times.

You are not alone, thankfully you have a writing community here that totally understands the struggles and are here to lift you up.

All this hard work will pay off, enjoy the journey and don't take things too seriously. And for goodness sakes, get some chocolate!