Last week, I took my parents three hours north to visit Denali National Park, a 6-million acre wilderness capped with the world's fourth highest mountain. We Alaskans call it Denali but thanks to a pesky Ohio senator obsessed with keeping it named after an obscure presidential candidate from Ohio (who never visited BTW), it remains Mt. McKinley. The weather in the park is its own, dominated by this huge 20,000-high peak, and it's usually cloudy. Especially when I take folks to see it. The day we drove in was no exception and I resigned myself to pointing vaguely southeast when asked where, exactly, this gigantic mountain was. Then suddenly, it unveiled itself, poking through the crowd like a vast tumble of white Legos. It's so high its 14,000 foot neighbors look like speed bumps.
At least half the people who attempt to climb it fail. No matter that everyone pays the tens of thousands of dollars or trains for hundreds of hours, in the end it all boils down to timing and teamwork. If the mountain decides that your day is the one in three that the sun shines, you're golden. And if your team is prepared enough, smart enough and strong enough to haul your ass out of a crevasse, you won't die in the process.
To me, writing is totally like mountain climbing. While lots of writers have said this - L.M. Montgomery called it the Alpine path - I'm don't mean wimpy, Lower 48 hills masquerading as mountains. Anything you don't need a harness to climb is NOT a mountain. Climbing the Mountain of Writerly Success is like attacking Denali - it's chilly, lonely and often unforgiving. We all spend hours practicing, or thousands of dollars pursuing that advanced writing degree, attending conferences, paying for critiques. We build crit groups who cheer us on, follow blogs who create networking opportunities, and lock arms in blogger solidarity.
And in the end, our success rests on timing and teamwork. I can't do much about the timing (if you can, please let me know ASAP bc I want a piece of it) but I’d love to be part of the teamwork. That mountain looks awfully far away and the weather sucks much of the time, but I'm willing to try for it. I've seen some of the views and the climb is totally worth it.
Seriously, what else do we have to do? Besides the day job, parenting, writing the WIP, housework, bill paying, scheduling, carpooling, gardening, laundry....