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. 🙂