Climbing Everest


I’ve been thinking about how tough this business is the past couple weeks – while I’ve been waiting unsurprisingly – and wondering at what point people give up. Is it worth the constant feeling of impatience? The feeling of sickness when you download your email in the morning? The disappointment when there is no answer yet again? And then building up to it all over again the next day?
This morning I was doubting it was worth it. Because surely all this stress and doubt isn’t good for you. It’s certainly been a killer for my inspiration and creativity.

And then also this morning, as I was trying to figure out whether to keep going or not, I happened to have a good talk to a very wise friend of mine. This friend does a lot of hiking and climbing and he told me about a NZ climber he knew who nearly got to the top of Everest but experienced a disaster when a storm hit him and his climbing partner. His partner died and he lost all half his foot and lots of fingers to frostbite. Apparently this climber, after coming back down from Everest, descended into bad depression, alcoholism and nearly took his own life. But he was a strong guy and pulled himself back from the edge, got fit again, and went back to climbing mountains because that’s what he loved to do. This is, I know, in no way, shape or form akin to writing. I’m not going to die if I don’t get published and I certainly won’t lose a limb waiting in the slush (except my mind maybe!). But it struck a chord with me because this journey certainly feels, in many ways, like climbing Everest. What makes it worse is that I nearly got to the top once, only to be turned back before summitting. And the hell of it is, when you get turned back, you know that the only way to get back up there is by climbing the whole bl**dy thing again. There are no quick routes. There is no helicopter to get you part way up. You’ve got to start climbing – again! – from the very bottom.

The thing about this NZ climber that really struck me though – and this is true for most climbers – was his mental toughness. He lost so much and yet pulled himself out of the darkness and got back out there because climbing is what he loved to do. How much discipline and determination would that take?
My point with this is that if this is what I want, I’m going to have to cultivate a bit of mental toughness myself. And I have to remind myself that the thing about climbing Everest is that with every ascent, you learn more about the route you’re climbing, the weather, the dangers, and perhaps a few good handholds here and there. You’re more prepared for the journey. And you’re more determined – you’re not going to let that mountain beat you. It’s that preparation and that determination that will – hopefully – get you to the top.

Getting published has been a dream since I was little, and it’s been two years since I’ve been actively pursuing this dream. And it’s hard work. Really hard work. Everest is the world’s highest mountain and it’s a b*tch to climb. I’ve had to start from the bottom five times – and it’s worse now than it was because now I know how hard it is and how long it takes. But I am tough. I will keep climbing. And I really hope that the view from the summit is worth it.

Alrighty, that was a very long-winded analogy wasn’t it? Don’t mind me, this is an extended pep-talk to myself but if it helps any of you then that’s all good. If anyone else is climbing Everest and needs a hand, I’m here. I’ve got ropes, oxygen for when we get really high, and lots of freeze-dried food.

Oh, and lots of chocolate. 🙂

21 thoughts on “Climbing Everest”

  1. It helps me Jackie…or rather Muttie (the human one). Muttie is a climber and can resonate with your images and, in a similar mountaineering allergy, she remembers meeting a guy who lost his arms and legs (yes, really) and his best friend to an ice climb in a French mountaineering resort. She’d read his autobiography then met him one night and he was nicest, and most determined bloke. Altho he didn’t have any arms, he insisted on signing Muttie’s book his way. And now he’s the father of twins. Well, if that guy can do it…so can we…(or rather Muttie – she’s the human one, altho cats have similar feelings of achievement etc when it comes to mouse-catching…).

    Milt x

    PS And you know, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

  2. wow Jackie, Everest is a great analogy and i think rather fitting for all writers (and really great for us NZers ;)).
    I’m with you! you can do it!

  3. Milton – those climbers have got lots of mental toughness haven’t they? They’re amazing. There’s an NZ climber here who lost both feet to frostbite and yet climbed Everest on his prosthetic legs. But the guy you mentioned – wow. Incredible. Just shows you how we have to keep going eh?.

    Kerrin – Glad you like the analogy! Yeah, I thought it was fitting. It’s not like climbing One Tree Hilll or anything. 🙂 Though I wish it was lol!!

  4. I think it’s a great analogy, writing is every bit as emotionally tough as climbing a mountain though perhaps not *quite* as physically tough 😉

    Really hope you hear soon, though. That 2 weeks has been going on forever!!

  5. As usual a fabulous post! And don’t worry- I know how you feel cos I’ve been pondering the same questions a lot lately. Like I don’t want to give up if I WILL make it if I KEEP trying but I don’t want to do this thing for decades and be no closer – when I could have been spending those decades on more certain pursuits. If you get my drift!

    I know it’s really hard on you waiting at the moment, but when you hear back… you’ll feel better! I’m sure of it!

  6. Joanne – yeah, not quite as tough physically – think I would have lost more than my toes by this point. 🙂
    Oh and that two weeks? It’s been going on forever because it’s now been three weeks.

    Rach – that’s it exactly. I have learned heaps in the two years but is that actually going to be of any use? I hope I’ll feel better. Depends on what the answer is. Oh well, at least it’ll mean I’ve heard I guess.

  7. Janette – unless it’s an R of course. *cue hollow laugh*

    Susan – I’m trying with the smiling. But the wind at this altitude makes it a tad difficult. 😉 The writing? Pfffft! Mojo is at basecamp and is refusing to move. Stupid mojo. 🙂

  8. It certainly is tough, Jackie, but you know, all that altitude sickness you’re experiencing right now? It’s because you’re near the top! It’s another bright, sunny day and here’s another hug for you, my dear!

  9. Hey Jackie, great analogy, although I’m not sure each time you’re starting right back down at the bottom of the mountain. You’ve navigated this thing a number of times already. You know some of the terrain and you have realistic expectations. I look on that as an advantage. The guides already know who you are and what you’re capable of. It not, they wouldn’t waste their time with you. If you keep at it, you’ll get there. You will. This is a great analogy for writers because I think each person needs to make their own individual choice about how bad they really want it and how much sheer courage and perserverance they can maintain to get there. It’s hard and painful and for some, the stress might not be worth it. And of course, it doesn’t end at the summit. There are other mountains to climb thereafter. Some not so big of course, but the climbing doesn’t stop. Couldn’t agree with you more about mental toughness. As with most things, talent is one thing (and many things you can learn given enough time), but you can’t succeed at anything if you don’t have what it takes on the inside to get there – strength, determination, and yeah stubborness helps as well.

    BTW, I love really, cold brittle chocolate.

  10. Caroline – thanks for the Everest sized hugs. They really help! 🙂

    Lacey – Doesn’t appear to be any time soon sadly.

    Maya – thanks m’dear. I feel I’m still in the foothills trying to make basecamp at the moment. Talk about slow going.

    Kailey – Love that re the guides. Yes, it does make it easier knowing the terrain but the journey up still takes the same amount of time. And it’s that part of it that gets me down. But glad the analogy works for you. Yeah, of course, climbing Everest doesn’t mean you stop climbing eh? God, what an exhausting thought! Lol! But I think it’s safe to say that I’m not a person who will give up after one attempt. Gotta rest, recoup your strength, and just keep going eh?

  11. Jackie, waiting sucks. But imagine if you didn’t have anything to wait for? No, I know, but really! Imagine that there’s nothing. No sub out. No hope one way or the other. That’s what not writing would be like.

    I actually have come to feel…bored when I don’t have something in. And you know I got slammed on my last sub…but it’s so much better than NOT having this!

    And the best thing? My 4 1/2 month wait (the final wait) for HVA nearly drove me nutty. I didn’t want to write, I hit the ceiling when the phone rang and I had horrible Friday depression. But once that call came…none of it mattered. And once your call comes…they’ll keep you REAAAAALLLY busy and you’ll hear from your ed almost every day.

  12. Suzanne – I log on hoping for news too! Lol! Yeah, it’s hideous. Distraction is the key I guess. Thanks for the hugs. 🙂

    Maisey – Yeah, true. NOT waiting would be worse. I’m hoping to be kept busy when – if! – that call comes. Yeah, I’m with you on the Friday depression. Currently experiencing that this morning. Sigh.

  13. I love the analogy as mountain climbers are so like writers. It is all about the journey. And you will get there, just enjoy the process as it will make the moment you summit that much sweeter.

    Yes..I am still out here and I am still writing.

  14. I am getting on great. I am currently quarter of the way through a book aimed at Presents and it is being edited and critiqued as I go, so different to my normal process…but that cannot be a bad thing. My work takes up a fair bit of my time, so I really write for fun now, so am taking my time and am enjoying the journey. Who knows where it might go, but I will stay in for the ride.

    Good luck on the revisions.

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