Sunday, November 3, 2013

Writers Climbing to the Top of the Mountain

Top of the Mountain ©Mary Montague Sikes
Not all writers reach the top of the mountain during their journeys with pen and paper or with fingers on the keyboard. An artist who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer recently wrote that although he has not always reached the top, he is happy to have been on the mountain. He understands that not everyone can reach the top, and when they do, often happiness evades them. For him, joy was found in the journey.

So many writers and artists are frustrated when their efforts don't result in expected sales or accolades. I read about their many disappointments on the lists I follow. Free books don't result in more book sales later on. They have an agent who doesn't perform up to their expectations. Many unexpected obstacles arise in their planned path to the top.

As I ponder all this confusion and disappointment writers face, I think about what my mother used to tell me. "Please stop and smell the roses along the way." As in most everything, my mother was right. The joy is in the journey up the mountain, not standing at the top. It's stopping and savoring the flowers along the way.

Some of my favorite memories in my writing journey are the trips taken flying cross-country from Virginia to Orange County, California where we met my publisher, Billie Johnson. Seated at a big round table in the lobby of a La Quinta, we sorted through hundreds of 35mm color slides, selecting the best ones to use in my coffee table book, Hotels to Remember. We contemplated the many possibilities. Looking back, it was a joyful time in my writing journey.

Holding my first published book, Hearts Across Forever, was another special moment. Before that, it was seeing my travel articles and photographs spread across the front pages of Sunday travel sections of newspapers like the Buffalo News and the Chronicle-Telegram (Cleveland). Articles in other newspapers including the Miami Herald created unforgettable memories.

Attending writers conferences, especially the national Romance Writers of America national events brought joy. They took me to the hearts of cities I would never have visited otherwise--Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Anaheim, Dallas--the list goes on. While I dreamed of going to the top, I relished being on the mountain.

A newspaper byline, a first book signing, a published article, a writer's class, a compliment, a smile. The writer's journey--what's most important to you. Is your joy found along the way?

--Mary Montague Sikes


Billie Johnson said...

Monti, thanks so much for your heartfelt thoughts. I feel the same way!

And some of my fondest memories are our meetings at the LaQuintas. Remember the hours we spent debating whether HTR should be portrait or landscape?!?

I took my desk copy of HTR with me to the Visalia Arts festival, and showed it opened it to various pages...and really enjoyed people thumbing through it. Its beauty is enduring!


Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thank you, Billie. I recently had a hotel owner in Sedona ask me to do another book and include his hotel!

Beryl Reichenberg said...

For me, it is always the process that counts. Creating a story for young children and interacting with kids as I market it, is a delight. Beryl

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Beryl, I enjoy the interaction with children as well. That certainly brings joy. Thank you for commenting!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I've had some of the same joys as you, Monte, not in the same places, but often a parallel journey. I wouldn't trade it.