When mountain climbers reach the summit, they stop to take in the view. They might even rest a while, have a snack, and reflect on how the climb’s been going so far. That pause, I am told, not only refuels them but also provides helpful perspective.
Writers aren’t much for taking in the view. We’re not inclined to look back either, at least not the writers I know. And I include myself in that group. We’re all about the next set of edits, the next re-write, the next book, the next challenge. It’s good to strive, and to look ahead. But I think we miss out a little bit when we don’t stop to take in the view.
A few years ago, I was in a library getting ready to talk to a group of high school kids. They were still in the classroom; they hadn’t arrived yet. I organized my set up on a table at the front of the room and then I left to get a glass of water. When I walked back in, it was like I was seeing that table for the first time. All those books . . . and I’d written every single one. I remember feeling almost startled. And then satisfied. And then, as I scanned the table, somewhat reflective because each book was a signpost along my career path.
Last week, Orca Book Publishers and Munro’s Books hosted a spring book launch. It was a welcome opportunity to pause and celebrate the release of our books. But since then, I’ve been looking back – not a lot, just a little – and thinking about my career path so far, how things have worked or not worked, what goals I’ve let slide that maybe I need to recommit to, and what detours have taken me in a direction that needs some correcting.
I can’t say I’ve reached the summit – I’m not even sure I can see the summit – but I am taking in the view, both the path that’s in front of me and the path I’ve already walked. I’m having the odd snack as I do it. Taking the occasional rest. And in the process I’m gaining much-needed perspective.
Take a breath, take a break, take in the view. You won’t be disappointed. I guarantee it.