Saturday, September 04, 2010

Did I sign up for this?

By Keith N Fisher

About thirty years ago, I was into backpacking. I used to traipse around the mountains in my area at a time before there were so many people out there. It was my way of getting off by myself to think and renew my soul.

One particular day, I was blazing my own trail with a full pack, in an area I’d never been, and I started climbing a steep hill. With every step, I could feel my ancient backpack straining against my shoulders. I’d used that old backpack in the High Uintas primitive area when I was a boy-scout and it had become pretty thread bare by then.

It was a long climb and I was inches from the top when suddenly, both shoulder straps broke and my pack slid back down the hill. I stood there at the top, watching my backpack go all the way to the bottom. I sat down, feeling like giving up and going home. How could I carry a backpack with no straps?

After a while I climbed back down and examined the damage. I don’t remember how I jury-rigged the straps, but I started back up the hill leaning farther forward this time. I camped at the top of the hill and went home the next morning. Finding new straps led me to shop for backpacks. Eventually, I purchased the top of the line backpack from the time period.

The new backpack was like a good friend. Now it hangs on the wall in my basement and hasn’t been used in years. It’s a dinosaur, but I will never part with it.

I was with some of my successful writer friends this week. We chatted about everything from writing, to baking bread. After a while a non-writer came in and was being introduced to us all. He turned to one of more successful friends and said. Well, I don’t remember the words, but the jest of it, for me, was, so, as I understand it, you are the one who is a real writer since you’ve got all those books published.

The conversation went to a listing of publishing credits for everybody. None of which were mine. I sat there looking at my writing career in much the same way that I did my old backpack.

There are forces at work, all the time, trying to destroy each one of us. Our belief system is under attack and that includes belief in our self. Most of us believe our life is a big test. We agreed to have the trials we face in hopes of gaining greater glory in eternity. I think everyone of us has stood back with an eye toward eternity, and wondered if we really agreed to what we are going through. With all the reversals and trials I’ve had to endure for the past two years, being introduced as a nobody was like loosing my backpack at the top of a hill.

While sitting and looking at my backpack, I considered leaving it there. After all, it left me didn’t it? I couldn’t do it though, It had been a good friend and it contained some of my newer gear. While examining my writing career, I did the natural thing and thought about abandoning it. I ran through the list of reasons for my lack of success, not the least of which are the time conflicts placed in my path.

Finally, I realized it’s in my blood. I’ve written through all the trials, and it has become second nature for me. I went back down the proverbial hill and jury-rigged my career. I think we all have those moments, whether we are published or not. It helps to have a support system and all of you are. Thank you for reading this blog. I know there are some of you with much greater trials than mine. I hope I can do something to help you along the way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Valerie Ipson said...

That's the spirit. Pick yourself up by your backpack straps! (the new, sturdier ones)

Ann Best said...

Yes, I've often wondered: Did I pick all these trials? I have a feeling I did! But I know we have to keep moving forward. We have to deal with what we dealt; what we chose to do. We do have the freedom to choose. And so, if we want to write, and have the faculties to do it, we'll write -- or, to use your analogy, we'll buy a new backpack and keep climbing.

kbrebes said...

I'm with you 100%. Lately, when writing has been most difficult, I've thought back to other jobs filled with friends and lively conversation, not to mention a big, regular paycheck. But, as I've thought about my WIP--from beginning to end, and what I will write when this is finished--I know that finishing this piece of writing is what I must do.

I also believe that there are tons of great pieces of writing out in the world which will never be published, just as there are songwriters and performers who will not reach their goals--but the journey is worth it.

Sue said...

It was really nice reading your piece. I could somehow identify with you as I read the piece. Fortunately or unfortunately life gives you an option to pick up your own backpack. But, most of the time I have not picked it up....may be this I will....all the best to you and your wonderful has been a great lesson for life!

Michael Knudsen said...

Don't ever succumb to that line of thinking! Your desire to write is all the evidence you need that you have the talent and were born to express yourself in that way. Keep writing!

Tristi Pinkston said...

Excellent post, Keith.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Keith, I wrote this in response to your post - you have so much to be proud of, even without a contract.

Tristi Pinkston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L.T. Elliot said...

Newer backpacks lack character. ;)
But seriously, character is something you're great at, Keith, not to mention your beautiful words. I haven't been around much but I pop back in when I can, just to catch a glimpse of you and what you write. (Plus some of the other fine writers at this place!)

I'm proud of you for jury-rigging your career. Don't ever forget that every rip and tear, every worn patch of that pack is your own little success story because it shapes you into the incredible writer you are. Someday soon, your pack will hang next to other backpackers and you'll embrace the charm and life that's evident in your struggle to "arrive."

In the mean time, I take strength from this quote:

"Everywhere in nature we are taught the lessons of patience and waiting. We want things a long time before we get them, and the fact that we want them a long time makes them all the more precious when they come." ~Joseph F. Smith

Hang in there. I believe in you.

Keith Fisher said...

Thank you, dear friends for the nice things you have written. I will keep going, (I have no choice right?)Keep going yourselves.