Sherpa Moments

I’m taking a break from torturing all of you with my ramblings on productivity and habits to torture you all with ramblings on my writing.

But since this is supposed to be a writer’s blog, I guess that’s okay.

This year marks ten years since I officially started writing fiction again. It was November 2009 that I wrote the first draft of Ravenmarked during NaNoWriMo.

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Those of you who’ve been with me all that time (or longer) know better than most all the ups and downs, stops and starts, joys and pains I’ve been through along the way. It’s been ugly and beautiful all at once. There have been so many moments that I’ve literally begged God to take away this need I have to craft stories from nothing, and other moments of creation when I could swear I’ve touched the Divine Storyteller Himself. More than once, those moments have been two sides of the same coin.

This… gift? What should we call it? For the same reason that I would resent someone giving me a pony (Where to put it? How to feed it? What kind of costs are involved? What do I even use it for?), I have resented this “gift” and thought it more of a curse.

But then there is a paragraph…

It’s always unexpected. It’s always a paragraph or sentence or chapter I didn’t foresee. But when I get there, I just know it has to be written. It’s the right paragraph for the right place, and though the character surprises me, it’s always exactly what she’s supposed to do, think, say. And more importantly, it hits something deep in my soul–something I hadn’t ever quite consciously acknowledged, something I know other people will understand.

A sliver of a piece of the human condition shows up on the page.

I spend a lot of time hating writing. Whether I should or shouldn’t isn’t really the point. The point is that I resent this thing–curse, gift, whatever. Maybe that’s part of why I write fantasy–because I identify so closely with those characters who wonder “why me? Why do I have to do this?”

But the irony of writing, at least for me, is that those random moments of bliss, when the Muse shows up and the words flow and the human condition shows up with brutal, beautiful intensity make it worthwhile.

Other professions must have this, right? This isn’t just a writer thing, surely. Everyone has long strings of boring, frustrating, irritating, normal days punctuated by mountaintop experiences. And maybe that’s part of the human condition, too–that we seek those mountaintop moments and spend a lot of time hating the every day moments that make up the majority of our experience.

But I do think creatives beat ourselves up for the every day more than most professions. Why do we believe that every moment has to be a high? Why do we believe that all the moments that aren’t mountaintop moments are worthless or wasted?

Because the truth is… those are sherpa moments. Those are the moments when we’re carrying the words and the ideas and the art up the mountain. And it’s hard. It’s brutal. It’s painful.

But the view is worth it.

Unquickened update: I was pretty reliably adding about 1,000 words a day to the draft for the last month or so, but I got kind of stuck. So I sat down with the beast today and dug into it from a bird’s eye view perspective, and I think it’s reorganized and going in the right direction again. This was a day full of sherpa moments. Current word count is just shy of 110,000; 30 chapters so far, but that may change. That will surely change, knowing me. In any case, it’s back on track. Stay tuned.

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