I started to climb a mountain, but I did not know how high it was.
I wrote a story when I was in third grade. I’ve always been good at words, at ease with grammar, fascinated by the process of converting thoughts into sentences.
When young I thought it would be swell to be a writer. I made a few attempts at writing novels and short stories, but do you know what?
It was too hard. I moved on to something else.
Besides, there was life to be lived. There was a war. There was college. There was marriage. There was a child. There were dogs—an endless parade of dogs, down to the present day.
At length, I ran out of excuses.
I began to look again at writing a novel. I’m a talented writer. How hard could it be?
At first it was great fun, tramping steadily uphill, writing page after page, chapter after chapter.
Then, it was challenging—revising, rewriting, and refining those early drafts.
I finished the book and rejoiced. That hadn’t been so hard after all. The mountain was only a hill.
But I wanted it published. I wanted a traditional, royalty-paying publication contract from a traditional, royalty-paying publisher. How hard could it be?
I sent it to agents. I sent it to independent publishers.
No agents responded. One independent publisher offered a contract; but it was a poor contract, and the publisher’s emails put me off. I turned it down.
Two more publishers agreed to read my full manuscript. Both of them sent back polite rejections, each with two or three sentences of what was wrong with the book. Triangulating their comments, I achieved a sudden, shattering insight.
My book was not good enough.
The mountain was higher than I thought.
I could see a way the book might be improved to meet the objections of the two publishers who had given me comments. But it would require another year or more of work, because the story had to be completely rewritten, turned inside out, major sections added and formerly important material subtracted.
I was not sure I could do it. An angel (Christine DeSmet) whispered in my ear, “Yes, you can.”
A year later, Dan Willis of DX Varos Publishing bought a vastly improved book.
Finally, it was good enough.
The mountain had been higher than I thought.
Why do I tell you this?
Because I learned a lesson, and it is one you might take to heart, whatever personal challenge it is that you are facing.
The work needs to be really good. You must reach down deep inside yourself and use all your resources. The mountain you must climb is higher, and more difficult, than you could have imagined when you started out.
But the thrill of achievement when you reach the summit is worth every bit of effort and courage that it took.
Immediately, you are given another mountain to climb: A mountain of publicity and recognition. A mountain of public indifference that must be overcome.
If the first mountain was worth the climb, so the second mountain will be also.
You will never get to the top if you don’t start.
Larry F. Sommers
Your New Favorite Writer