Thursday, August 18, 2011
STAY IN YOUR LANE
I feel lucky to be alive; I drove to Provo and back Tuesday. That strip of freeway between Salt Lake and Provo is not for the faint of heart. It's confusing, but there are signs that say STAY IN YOUR LANE. I wasn't too sure what the signs were trying to tell me, but I stayed in the lane I was in. It took me through narrow canyons of walls and trucks, around odd curves, and over a lot of bumps. There were far too many vehicles going much too fast and a huge truck taking up two lanes. However, I survived by stubbornly staying in my lane.
Perhaps I'm getting a bit philosophical, but it seems to me, becoming a writer is a lot like that freeway. There's all that white knuckle slogging through learning how to write which includes a lot of reading, research, practice writing, attending conferences, finishing and submitting a manuscript or multiple manuscripts, rejection letters, and rewriting. It's scary, intimidating, and can easily discourage a would-be writer. But then there's a welcome stretch when the work is accepted and it looks like smooth road ahead. Ha! Then begins the editing, rewriting, reading and rereading searching for the tiniest errors, making appearances, being interviewed, booksignings, and reviews. Before there's time to catch your breath, it's time to do it all over again.
At BYU Education week a couple of people stopped by my table to tell me all about the great book they're going to write "someday." This scenario happens over and over at book signings. I love talking to people who are seriously working at becoming writers, the ones who are slogging through the early stages, but stubbornly moving forward. It's the "someday" ones who make me wince. These are the ones who have never committed a word to paper, the ones who think writing is so easy they can dash of a book anytime they get around to it, the ones who think they'll become great writers when they "find time." One of those at this signing commented, "I don't read. I don't have to be a reader to write a good book." All I can say to these people is "Stay in your lane. If you didn't pick a lane that leads to the destination you want, there's little chance you're going to get there."
There were a few drivers who wove from lane to lane, exceeded the speed limit, and made the trip more treacherous than it needed to be. Life is like that. There are spoilers who cause problems for themselves and others. Writers meet their share of spoilers too; "friends" and "family" who attempt to discourage. They laugh and ridicule. They refuse to respect time set aside for writing. They dish out guilt for not making more money or failing to do something else that is more important in their estimation. They deliver patronizing "what-a-fun-little-hobby" comments and put downs. It's not easy sticking to your goal or staying in your lane when those around you are speeding, cutting in, and failing to take your determination seriously.
To be successful at anything, including writing, commitment is necessary. Getting published may take many years. Some writers seem to have overnight success, but this perception is usually wrong. The lane they picked only took a different route with its own bumps and obstacles. No one becomes a doctor, a concert pianist, or even a good parent without sticking to their determination to reach that goal and doing the work needed to get them there. Writing is no different. Talent is only the beginning; hard work, perseverance, and stubbornly sticking to the chosen lane is the way to success.
Stay in your lane. Deal with the distractions without childish anger or seeking shortcuts and you'll be the one collecting royalty checks instead of the one sitting beside the road with a highway patrolman handing you a "double fine in work zone" ticket, watching all the cars who stayed in their lane pass you by.