“The long and winding road”

Great Wall from top

long and winding road from Great Wall

By now everyone on the planet must have heard the cliché, “It’s the journey that’s most important, not the destination.”

A friend who writes a travel blog (see story here)  and who traveled with her husband to Greece to buy a house only to have the deal they thought was firm fall through, buys into this idea wholeheartedly for this and other reasons. But I hadn’t thought about it much until recently.

I’ve had to slow down this summer, thanks to a spooked pony who caused a fender-bender of sorts involving my lower back and tailbone.  I can’t write when I hurt. It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve enjoyed many lazy afternoons napping on the patio in the company of my always-sleepy cat.  But slowing down wasn’t enough to force me to ask why I’ve put such pressure on myself to get published in a short time.  That came after hearing the stories of writers who had gone before me.

I attended the annual Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference, primarily to pitch my story to agents and editors. I’d been working on a novel for three years and never once did I ask myself why I kept setting the goal of publication ASAP. Age I guess. It engenders a sense of urgency.

While at the conference I talked to a writing instructor whose first book was published in 2013. I’m paraphrasing what he said: “I wrote for two years before an agent told me I needed to start over. I listened and began researching my story from a different angle. It took me twelve years, but I did it.”

Twelve years?  I’m comforted by having a ninety-three-year-old friend who’s working hard to get her memoir in shape for publication.  If she can hang on so can I.

One morning I sat next to a woman who handed out bookmarks with testimonials about her latest novel. She asked what stage of the process I was in.

“I’m on my third draft.”

“I wrote fourteen,” she said.

Fourteen? I should have started sooner, maybe in kindergarten.

Nearly all the speakers, including many of the agents and editors, repeated the same mantra.  Having a first book published isn’t magical. It doesn’t change your life, except that now you have to spend time marketing it as you work on a second.

Darn. I was expecting magic.

Do it because you love it, the experts said. Write because you are passionate about writing. Good writing always sells.

The moral of the story is that I haven’t given up wanting to be published, but I have let go of the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to work fast.  A huge weight has lifted.  I am now focused on the writing itself. I guess it’s the journey after all.







About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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6 Responses to “The long and winding road”

  1. Sylvia Soholt says:

    While I wouldn’t wish an injury on you, I’m glad—and relieved— that the fall from the pony has resulted in this insight. Recommended reading: Failure is Our Muse, NYT 7/27.

  2. Martha says:

    Have a good trip!

  3. bestissaquah says:

    . . . and I’m glad you’re taking all of us with you on the journey. Now, can you give me a tip for relaxing the pressure over here in Issaquah? As you say in your post, age alone creates a kind of urgency to complete the work.

  4. bestissaquah says:

    Oh and I see that my new WordPress account has now become my handle for your blog! In case you’re wondering this is Barb. My youth suicide prevention group is starting a blog called MissionMental, using the generic name of B.E.S.T. (Building Emotional Strength Together).

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