January 16, 2012

All Sorts of Terrain

When I began walking this journey down my writing path, I didn’t know what I would encounter—I was just eager to start. I pulled on my literary hiking boots, grabbed my figurative walking stick, and hit the road.

At first, everything felt spectacular. My senses exploded. I made all sorts of discoveries about myself and the world around me. I bounded through crystal streams of joy (what I felt when writing, writing, writing!), threw my hands up and spun in meadows of contentment (I was finally doing what I’d been wanting to do for awhile…writing a novel!), and smelled the flowers of plot, character, and dialogue (ah, what a heavenly scent!).

The terrain—and thus, my journey—was breathtaking, and yet in a weird sort of way, I could finally breathe, because finally I was no longer dreaming about walking the path but actually walking it. As we all know, exercise has this way of causing us to breathe harder but making our lungs stronger in the process.

And then I hit some rocky roads: doubt over my purpose, stress over self-imposed deadlines, despair that I wasn’t as good as others. I wrote the majority of my novel in the month of November, pushing myself at a grueling pace that left the soles of my feet burning and my head spinning with the new altitude. It hurt.

Some of the novelty was gone. I forgot sometimes to enjoy the flowers. They were still there, but I forgot to smell them because I was focused on something else. The summit. That wasn’t a bad thing to be focused on. I’m not saying it was. It was time to test my mettle and find out what Lindsay Harrel is really made of.

Now, looking back down that path from the top of the First Novel Written Summit, I smile. I made it! Looking ahead, I see countless more summits, with names like First Novel Edited, Second Novel, Third Novel, Agent Acquired, First Book Published, etc.

I admit, I’m exhausted just thinking about the journey ahead. Looking down the road, I see just how far I have to go. I try to remember that this is not just a journey with one end goal—every summit is a goal worth achieving. Some are taller than others. Some have thornier bushes—but then, some have rosier ones.

If I focus on all of them I have yet to climb, I get woozy. Excited, but woozy.

But, if I sit down, rest for awhile, and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment here at the top of this first summit, that (and of course, God) will give me strength to say, “I’m ready for the next one. Bring it on.”

So…I’m ready for the next one. Bring it on.

Your Turn: Regardless of whether you're a writer or not, what summit are you currently climbing? Does it have thorny bushes along the way or rosy ones?

Photo courtesy of Michal Marcol: portfolio is:


  1. This is a really nice way to think about the writing journey. I am just beginning the agent acquisition climb. This feels like the mountain that has been looming in the distance as I've been writing and rewriting for the past year and a half, and now I'm at the foot. The thing I least expected was how much patience this part of the climb would involve. Now that my first round of queries are out there I need to find some new projects to think about while I wait for feedback. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. I hope you enjoy the next steps as much as the early rush.

  2. I'm constantly in search of scents and views.

    And congratulations! on your first novel written. That IS a big deal.

    Onward. ;)
    ~ Wendy

  3. "I admit, I’m exhausted just thinking about the journey ahead."

    That's me, too. :) In fact, I spent much of November and December feeling like the climb was simply too steep. But one of my goals for this year is to focus on today...what I can do now...and then take joy in each step. And it sounds like that's what you're doing too. So glad to have a new friend on the journey! :)

  4. I'm on the same journey as you. Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone.

  5. Great metaphor! It is a grueling journey. It never seems to end, really.

    I am climbing the "Agent Acquisition" mountain right now and it feels like Everest!

    ...but I know it will be worth it in the end.

    Just remember to use the tools out there to make the experience easier and more meaningful. And learn from how others made it through.

    I find strategy is the most important aspect of longevity.

  6. Oh I sooo needed this today, Lindsay! I've crossed over some big mountains in my writing journey, but my current one feels endless. And then I find myself thinking of all the mountains after this one and it's overwhelming. You're so right. One foot in front of the other and then enjoy the peak when I reach it. The rest will happen when it happens. :)

  7. Loved the analogy you wove in this blog post. I often think of the writing life as walking along a road ... or crawling ... running ... whatever.
    Celebrate ever milestone -- so, Woo Hoo! You wrote your First Novel. Truly -- go celebrate! Do something nice for yourself. Mark this achievement somehow. Invest in a writing book. (Come to the Deep Thinkers Retreat, oh yeah!)
    Where am I right now? I'm diving in to book 2 waiting for my debut novel to arrive this May. Things to celebrate, for sure. And hard work to be done on both accounts.

  8. Shannon, I'm not quite at the agent acquisition part of my journey, but from what I understand, it can be quite grueling. But take heart! Others have traveled the path and reached the top! I'm sure you will too in time.

    Wendy, thanks, as always, for your encouragement! I definitely took you for a view-finder. :)

    Melissa, I'm so glad for that too! It's been hard to get back into the groove after Christmas/New Year's. But you're right...one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. And before you know it, we'll look back and realize we've ascended much farther than we thought possible.

    TC, it can be so easy to think we are alone, but we're not! We've got other writers and, of course, God, supporting us the whole way.

    Ruth, that's a great point about tools. If I went hiking without the proper boots and walking stick, then the hike would be a lot more painful and probably take me a lot longer!

    Sarah, from what I can tell, you're a go-getter with lots of determination...you'll reach the top before you know it. And when you do, I'll be cheering for you! For now, I'm cheering you on. You can do it!

    Beth, I can't wait to read your debut (it's already pre-ordered, woot!). And I'd love to come on that retreat, but won't have enough time off yet from my job. I do plan to do ACFW in September, though. But there's always next year... :)

  9. "Excited but woozy" just about sums it up. As you know, I'm at the same point as you in my journey so this was a timely post. My summit would have to be going from first draft to ready-for-submission. Seems like there's so much ground to cover in between the two summits—maybe even a valley! :O

  10. Like you said, Barb, we are on the same path right now! Glad to have your company so we can spur each other on!