Monday, December 21, 2009

The Pioneer Spirit

I've been reading a lot of books with a pioneering theme over the past few months. Those adventurous souls set off with high hopes and optimism to carve out a better life for themselves and their families. While they heard stories of Indian attacks, disease, and treacherous travel, the realities of the trip did not hit them until they experienced them firsthand.

As writers, we dream of our words bound together in a book. We imagine them impacting both individuals and the culture. The journey begins with words put on paper. Then we get smacked in the face by a nasty little thing called, "a reality check."

Somewhere along the line, we find out it's a good idea to attend a writers' conference. After a couple of workshops and hope-filled appointments with editors, we come away to lick our wounds and start applying ourselves to learning the craft.

We inhale books by the now famous on how to write The Great American Novel. Reading the blogs and websites of those who've achieved success becomes a daily habit. We go back to our WIP's and slave over each word, revising and editing until we want to scream.

The doubts crowd in, and torment us. Do we have what it takes to make this trip? Maybe we should cut our losses and move on to other endeavors. We might even try to quit, but the writing woos us like a persistent suitor.

And so, we write. We're committed for the long haul. No matter how many rejections clog our mailbox. No matter how many agents or editors paint a dismal picture of our genre. No matter how many times we re-write our manuscripts. We continue. Why? Because writing is a fire in our bones.

Like the early pioneers, we embark on this journey with stars in our eyes. The road toughens us, teaches us, and prepares us for new territory. Many of them reached their destination and built new lives. We may arrive with a few scars and bandages, but our words will impact our generation.

How about you? What misconceptions did you have about the writing life when you first began on this path?

22 comments:

Carla Gade said...

What a great analogy. We are pioneers on a journey! I love it! And it is so true. And like the pioneers hopefully we have a richer story for the traveling.

Misconceptions? I had no conceptions. I really hadn't a clue. I just wanted to discover how it was done. I cannot believe all that I've learned and all there is still yet to learn. One of the hardest things is explaining to others who haven't a clue either when they ask, "when are you going to get that book published?" ... Oh, any day now.

Jody Hedlund said...

Oh, I had tons of misconceptions. I was blissfully ignorant of how difficult the journey would be and I probably wouldn't have started down the trail if I'd known all that was to come! But thankfully I didn't! I persevered through them because I'm not a "turn-back" kind of person. Thankfully, God's been right beside me, guiding each step!

Heather Sunseri said...

I don't know if it was a misconception, but I was definitely surprised at how much I would love, or crave, to write. I also was surprised at just how hard it is. I have a new level of respect for my favorite authors who have worked so hard on their masterpieces.

Merry Christmas, Susan!

Jessica said...

LOL My first completed story was started because I saw that Love Inspired was opening a Historical line and I thought, that'll be easy to write.

LOL!!! The naivety...

Great analogy! It's very much like pioneering, and even once we reach where we'll settle, there are still challenges.

Shmologna said...

"The doubts crowd in, and torment us. Do we have what it takes to make this trip? Maybe we should cut our losses and move on to other endeavors. We might even try to quit, but the writing woos us like a persistent suitor."

A quote from my own soul! I love your blog. I still have lots to learn.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Hey, Susan!

Here's a preconception: that the book industry loves a good adverb. ::sigh:: I'm still in mourning for them. :0)

Have a merry Christmas, Friend!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Carla -

LOL! People ask me that question all the time. When I give them a short lesson on the publishing process, they still don't get it. After a while, I get the impression they're humoring me when they ask about the book.

Like being a pioneer, only those on the journey can truly relate to the experience.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

No disrespect intended, but I've noticed God is one who gives information on a need-to-know basis. He knows we'd probably give up before we got started if we saw the whole picture.

Let's face it, you might mentally be aware of all the rejections writers get, but the real thing...ouch!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Heather -

What an excellent point! I'm awed when I read a story that involves me in a character's life. As a writer, I'm aware of how hard it is to achieve that goal.

Merry Christmas,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Now, let's not get that far ahead. I'm not sure I want to know what lies on the other side of publication. LOL!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Thanks for the chuckle. Personally, I miss the banished exclamation point.

You should have seen my early efforts. Maybe I'll save them to keep me humble.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shmologna -

Yeah, sometimes I wonder why I'm putting myself through this. Then I remember all the times the Lord confirmed the calling to write. I'd be frustrated and miserable if I didn't put words on paper.

I'm glad we "met" here in the blogosphere. It's nice to have company on the journey. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Janalyn Voigt (WaySinger) said...

Thanks for this post, which dispenses the kind of gritty hope writers need.

I think those of us who win through to publication demonstrate what the pioneers might have called sheer cussedness.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janalyn -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I like that phrase, "gritty hope." It's the kind of tenacity that says, "I'm going to do this or die trying."

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

Good analogy! I feel a bit like I may be leaving in my own covered wagon very soon:) Blessings!

kristen said...

What a fantastic picture, Susan. Thanks. It certainly does feel like a long trail ride. So bumpy sometimes.
I think the thing that surprised me, (duh) is that not everyone will want my work.
Those early manuscripts were so full of happy ignorance, I had no clue it was riddled with blatant imperfections.
At this point on the trail I'm sure there is still some "happy ignorance" in my work, but I hope it is nowhere near what I produced eight years ago! So really I think I was surprised by how much I had to learn and how long that learning continues. (FOR-EV-ER!!!)

quietspirit said...

Susan:
When I began this journey, I thought it would be simple and fun. It's been fun but the only simple thing is my mind.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

Hmm, sounds like you're in for a new adventure. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

I often feel like a kid on a long road trip. "Are we there yet?"

Merry Christmas,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

When I started out, I thought my writing was just fine. I soon found out how little I knew about both non-fiction and fiction.

At least we're having fun!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Becky Lange said...

I haven't been "out" long enough to get into the rough and tumble stuff very deeply - when I am struck with something like reality it's like cold water in my face. In a bad way! I think my "safe place" that keeps me going is where my head is down, and I'm absorbed in my work. I don't like to make contact with harsh honesty about my work -- though I try to take it quietly. I may be bummed for a little bit, but sooner or later, I'll get back to the keyboard. Like you said - it's like fire in my bones.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Becky -

Yeah, in this business a thick skin is part of the equipment. Keep writing and learn as much as you can from craft books, the Internet, and other writers.

Before you know it, you'll be helping others on their journey. :)

Blessings,
Susan