I think life is like climbing a mountain that never relents. You keep thinking after you cross this ridge, that will be it, things will be easier. But it never happens. If anything, you cross a ridge and see clearly enough to realize it only gets steeper.
I suppose it’s not always a vertical climb. I seem to recall times where I’ve climbed steadily, barely even winded, enjoying the brisk mountain air and feeling an infusion of joy to the soul. Sometimes it tapers off into little mountain pastures, where you sit and rest a spell and check out the magnificent view below. Other times, however, it’s extraordinarily steep, and it’s all you can do to crawl, praying your muscles won’t give way lest you plummet to your death.
The “mountains” we deal with in writing come in several forms, I guess. Since I started with this whole novel-writing-thing several years ago, I’ve felt plenty of discouragement, for example, all kinds of voices (both external and internal) telling me it can’t be done, at least not by me, and am I wasting all my time on something that will never succeed? Etc, etc. But in all of that discouragement, I got through because I had plenty of something on the other side of the line, pushing me: motivation. I didn’t care if the mountain was impossible to climb, I was going to do it or die in the effort.
Suddenly, however, it’s the motivation I’m lacking, and that scares me more than anything. Now my thoughts are I don’t even want to write; why am I getting up at 4:30 a.m. to do something I have no desire to do? I think probably the root of the problem is that I have so many other things to worry about that I can’t believe I even care about making up stories. I almost wonder, even, if I lost perspective somewhere in all my determination.
It’s also hard, I’ve noticed, to come up with something creative when you feel empty inside. What’s the point? I wonder. Have I lost my purpose? Am I supposed to care this much about writing? What am I supposed to be doing? Who am I? I want to get in touch with that last bit—find that. Find meaning. I don’t want to be afraid, and I don’t want to fail.
This could be the thing that does me in—but still I resist, as far as I am able (okay, maybe I have occasionally slept in an extra hour). I just don’t have it in me to stop climbing the mountain. In anguish the other day I thought, What do I do if I can’t go on, if I collapse? And that’s when the image of crawling came into my mind. Sometimes it is all we can do.
My husband is reading a little book about the 23rd Psalm and he read part of it to me the other day. “The Lord is my Shepherd... He maketh me to lie down in greener pastures.” Maybe we have to trust in that when we don’t want to leave the pasture, so to speak, that we are already in. Maybe every ridge leads to a greener pasture before you must, of necessity, start climbing again.
I also just read a quote in Writer’s Digest that gave me the encouragement I needed to keep climbing. It said, “Whatever you choose to do, give it everything you have, no matter what. No effort is trivial if the effort is your all.”
Well, I don’t think I’ve given it my all yet, so I’m pushing on.