Monday, September 17, 2012

Hiking to Success by E. Louise Bates

Thanks to J.A. for asking me to guest post on her blog! I’m so excited for her and her family with their newest member and all the fun (and sleeplessness) that goes along with it. I don’t miss much about the baby stage with my girls, but I do remember with great fondness that initial getting-to-know-you part where you finally get to experience the baby as an individual with a developing personality rather than just “person inside me who kicks all the time and keeps me trekking to the bathroom five times a night.”
One of our favorite things to do as a family is hiking. We took our eldest on her first mountain climb when she was nine months. On one of our hikes this summer, I watched the way we all approach the trail, and an analogy blossomed in my mind.

Joy, who is five, wanders about from side to side, spends more time looking at the clouds and trees and checking out all the creatures on the trail then in actually walking, stumbles over every rock and root in her path, and yet still manages to stay on her feet almost the entire time.

Grace, age three, keeps her eyes sternly on the path in front of her, occasionally looking up to look at something particularly interesting her sister has found, but mostly just watches her feet and hikes like this is her business. Hiking is, for Grace, serious work.

Carl takes huge long strides that eat up the ground, covers any kind of terrain without difficulty. Given the choice between a short, rocky burst or a long (long, long, long) smoother stretch, he takes the long way, because it doesn’t take him that much time at all.

I have weak ankles and I have learned over the years the best way to accommodate them. Oddly enough, I do better going over rocks and roots, because on the smooth stretches I forget to pay attention and always catch my foot on an unexpected bump in the path, and then there goes my ankle. In the rocky sections, I have to watch where I go, and so it’s easier for me to place my feet carefully.

I think the journey to publishing is kind of like that. We all have different ways we approach the goal. For some people, self-publishing is going to match their style the best. For some, sticking with the long stretch to traditional publishing works. Some might choose small presses, some might decide to forgo novels and turn instead to short stories (or blogging!) or screenwriting.

Some might even find that life causes us to take a break along the way, or take it more slowly, or wander along a different path for a time. In the end, we all are going toward the same goal, and the very best way to get there is not to worry about how everyone else is doing it, but trust to our own instincts about what works for us and stick with that. However much I wish Grace might look like she’s enjoying herself more, or that Joy would pay more attention to her feet and less to her dreams, it doesn’t work to try to force them to walk their sister’s path (and yes, I’ve tried).

And at the end, if we’re persistent and help each other along the way, we all get to share in the same spectacular view. And that is what makes it all worth it!

E. Louise Bates is a writer, wife, and mother living in upstate NY. She juggles parenting and writing and the occasional attempt at keeping house. She is currently unpublished, but hopes to change that soon. You can find her blogging at E Louise Bates, on Twitter @ElouiseBates, or check out her Facebook page at E.L. Bates.
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