My family recently returned from a fabulous spring break vacation in the beautiful red rocks of southeastern Utah. We hiked, visited national parks and saw dinosaur bones. All of it was wonderful. But, everyone's favorite part was a challenging activity we all did for the first time: a guided hike that involved scrambling up the sides of cliffs and then rappelling down them!
In addition to being a real "conquer your fear" moment for me, this adventure reminded me a lot of my path toward being published. Let me explain:
1. The key to climbing up a vertical wall of rock is taking slow steps and looking for small places you can put a foot or hand. The same is true of getting published. I need to keep taking small steps and looking for opportunities, no matter how tiny. As long as I keep moving upward, I'm making progress!
2. When climbing, sometimes you need a bit of help. As I have an injured rotator cuff, I was very cognizant of not putting too much weight on my right hand. Because of this (and because I was scared!), our very patient guide had to help me up a few times by gently tugging on the rope attached to my harness. Likewise, I need writing friends: critique partners, online communities, colleagues through groups like SCBWI. Although writing is a solitary activity, I've learned that nobody gets published all alone.
3. Act confident, even when you're not. While climbing up and rappelling down, I vacillated between having an attitude of "I've got this" to thinking "What the blank am I doing?" If you're a writer like me, this sounds familiar. Of course, I know that I make more progress - in climbing and in writing - when I feel confident, even while recognizing that doubts are part of the process.
So, onward and upward on the path to publication!