Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Road Less Traveled

Probably every writer has at some point read that beautiful Robert Frost poem "The Road Less Traveled". Most schools assign it -- it's a classic lesson in forging your own path -- though to be fair, there are only two paths in the poem -- most of us have many, many more... Still, you can take the well-worn route, or the one that is harder going and more rewarding.

I think most writers choose that harder path.

There's a certain amount of sacrifice involved. You put yourself out there when you're a storyteller. You spend a night writing instead of watching TV with your honey. You attend a workshop instead of going to the movies. You face rejection on a regular basis. That is the daily work you must do. And that's what separates writers from people who'd like to be writers.

I think I've given up a lot to be at this point in my career -- but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. In fact, just the other night a friend asked me if money were no object and I could do anything I wanted what would I do? Write, I said. Of course, I'd write from a tropical beach, but I'd write nonetheless. And it wouldn't hurt if hot surfer boys dropped off drinks with little umbrellas in them every so often...

Writing is a craft, a discipline, and a business. It isn't a way of life in itself, but it comes close. So I applaud all of you out there hiking down the road less traveled. It's such an interesting life journey to be a writer. Something very few outside the industry know about. There's something noble and wonderful about creating in this way, walking this path.

And the ground beneath your feet is always fresh, always new...


stephhale said...

Wow, Heather, what a great post! You took the words right out of my mouth. Just a few years ago I thought I'd never discover what I was meant to do with my life then I started writing and I've never looked back. Not getting published was never an option for me and like you I've definitely sacrificed to get what I want. But it was worth every minute of sleep I lost!
I have to admit that sometimes I feel as though I live a double life though b/c as you stated people outside of writing don't really "get" it. Maybe they'll understand a little more when they stand in line to pay $10 for my book! :) Hey, a girl can dream!

Marley Gibson said...

Here, here, Heather! All true and very wise. I hope aspiring writers, or those who have struggled and still trying, will take inspiration it in.

It's interesting, after I sold, I got a lot of e-mails from people asking me, "how did you do it?" and "what's your secret?" Like there was some sort of Masonic-like handshake or membership card or password that someone had suddenly given me after all these years. They're looking for short cuts or easy answers or ways in, but there are none.

In this business, you have to pay your dues, learn by making mistakes and growing from them. Each rejection makes you stronger. Each hurdle makes you want to try harder. And even when you sell, you can't sit back and watch. You have to put into motion everything you've learned and keep moving forward.

Great post!

Marley = )

TinaFerraro said...

Great post, Marley. And I agree it's the hard road, although for me, it's never been a choice. Writing is my outlet, my escape, and during super-active periods when I haven't written, I've dreamt about it, and been called back.

What I considered the hardest part of being a pre-pub was all the nonwriters who did not understand how hard it was to sell, who kept asking, "Haven't you sold YET?" The underlying implication being that I must not be very good, right? I was torn between defending myself and laughing it off...but mostly it just sent me back to my stories so I didn't have to deal with it. :)