Stepping Stones of Writing

Long ago, I remember saying that my approach to writing is like having stepping stones across a river in front of me. If I remained patient and persevered, I would find a safe crossing to the other side. In this case, the reward would be publication.

I don’t know how long ago I said that, but I still find myself balancing precariously in the middle of the river. The way ahead is turbulent. The way back is calm and peaceful. Sometimes, I think about turning back (and I have been known to take steps in that direction). As the years go by I find myself wondering “why?”. Not why am I writing, but why do I persist in trying to reach the other side when it would be a damn sight easier to go back and relax in the sun, and do nothing. Why do I bother striving for something that feels impossible to achieve? Why beat myself around the head with this writing stuff? Why put myself through the rejections and negative comments? Why?

And then…I talk to someone who inspires me, or I find characters and plots forcing their way into my brain, or I find myself jotting down notes and ideas for a possible story idea. Why? Why do I keep doing that? Going back is easy. Going forward is always hard. Why do I take those few steps backward and then turn and move forward again with a vengence that almost seems evil?

Honestly, sometimes I want to give up and I have done exactly that, but there’s something stronger always calling to me. It beckons me to follow it and I go willingly. The river is the obstacle and the stepping stones are the way across, but sometimes I can’t jump the distance and I get tired of balancing, waiting, hoping that a life line will come my way.

Yes, I could go back. I have threatened it. I have tried to do it. It would be easy to give in. But giving in isn’t in my nature. I want to go forward in my writing, in my life. Time is running out, but I’m still determined to reach that next stepping stone…and the one after that.

The people who know me in “real” life see me in a light that I don’t see myself. They see me as a person who finishes what she starts. I see myself as a starter… There is a huge difference. Who is right? Do they know me better than I know myself? Or, do they see something in me that hasn’t fully shown itself or is in some way vague to me. I don’t know the answer to this one.

I do know, however, that I am drawn to writing like I’m drawn to nothing else. That must account for something and, I believe, it will be the factor that continues to help me keep my balance in the river.

2 thoughts on “Stepping Stones of Writing”

  1. Love the stepping stones analogy, Karen.

    On my desk, I have a framed Michael Leunig cartoon titled ‘How to Get There.’ I would like to share the words with you:

    Go to the end of the path until you get to the gate.
    Go through the gate and head straight out
    Towards the horizon
    Keep going towards the horizon
    Sit down and have a rest every now and again
    But keep on going.
    Just keep with it.
    Keep on going as far as you can
    That’s how you get there.

    Wise words.

    All the best getting to the other side of the river. And it doesn’t matter if you get wet.


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