Recently, conference keynote speaker, Regina Sirois, compared mountain climbing to our writing careers. The points I took away from her talk included three important aspects writers must remember:
- we should never sit down and die because the journey to the top is difficult
- we should never be too busy getting too the top that we forget to help others along the way
- we should never be so jealous of others’ achievements, that we are disappointed in our own.
I’d like to embellish on the third point, if I may. Comparison can be a deadly sin in our writing efforts, especially if we use the task to depress ourselves. Maybe our friends in the business are brilliant storytellers. Maybe those same people use words to conjure up vivid imagery or draw on the readers’ emotions like no other writer. Maybe we look at ourselves as lacking those same abilities, a lesser colleague in the rise to find our place as an author.
Avoid such comparisons. A more useful path might include an evaluation of our own earlier efforts with that of our current achievements. This type of comparison clearly delineates the progress we have made. Isn’t that the only assessment that counts? Isn’t our goal as a writer to become better at our craft than we were before?
Perhaps our colleagues started at higher talent level. With a bit of determination and hard work, it’s only a matter of time before we reach those same goals. Right?
Or maybe our colleagues were in the right places at the right times. Ours is to figure out what distinctive direction and schedule to follow in our own worlds so we can arrive at the places and times better fit for our own purposes.
In our trek up Everest, we might just discover the necessity to climb a different summit, one that will take us farther and higher that we ever dreamed possible, a summit with an entirely different scope than we imagined for ourselves in the beginning. Isn’t that how genius is born?
Our goals are unique. We show graciousness and class when we are happy with our colleagues' contributions. But it is imperative we also find joy in the zeniths we have conquered. What is right for another author may be disastrous within our own realms. Just imagine our thrill when we discover the view at the top of our individual mountains is only a respite on our way to something far better.
We have a world of pinnacles to climb. Some higher, some lower than others. Be happy with whatever those pinnacles may be. Go and conquer.