A number of years ago, a writer friend went to a writers’ conference and came back feeling dejected.
“It was as though all those successful writers were on a mountaintop shouting advice down to me,” she said. “It was good advice, but it made me realize how far down the mountain I was and how much further I had to climb.”
My own writing journey was even longer than hers was. I spent decades writing poetry before I sold a poem to Ladybug magazine. Thirty-nine years passed between my first novel submission and my first contract offer for a novel. I am glad I didn’t think of my journey as climbing a mountain.
I always preferred to think of my journey to publication as a road trip. While I always remembered my goal, I tried to make the most of every step I took.
My husband and I like to take road trips. We stop at lots of interesting places along the way to wherever we’re headed. The Route 66 Museum, Devil’s Tower, Meteor Crater, AZ, and Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville were a few of the dozens and dozens of sites along the way. Though never our main destinations, they were wonderful places to visit, places I’m glad I didn’t miss.
My journey to publication has had its own stops. And I have always enjoyed the creative process, which I consider the fuel that keeps me going. I attended workshops and classes where I learned a great deal about writing and learned to find the writer within me. I met published authors and editors and realized they’re people, too. (Astonishing!) I made friends at critique group meetings and workshops. Many of them became dear friends, who have enriched my life.
Now, as I work toward my third published novel, I’m glad I didn’t miss any of those experiences.
No matter how long your road is, the journey is better if you take time to enjoy the stops along the way.