By: Amanda Gochez
I’ve had a pretty humbling experience over this past week. I had the amazing opportunity to go on vacation to Northern California to explore the Redwoods. Not everyone would think of this spot to go on vacation since it isn’t tropical. Let me tell you – put it on your list. It is the most amazing experience to be surrounded by these massive trees that are up to 3,000 years old. The beauty is breathtaking. If you want a few things to do while you are out there: drive the Avenue of the Giants, go to Trees of Mystery and go on the sky train, then proceed to do the difficult hike (the hike is worth it).
Anyway, the point of this blog isn’t to go on and on about my vacation… kind of. I’m still running on the adrenaline. There is one thing I learned about myself from this trip, and it is that I have a horrible fear of falling from great heights. I had no idea I had that fear until the moment came and my mind got the best of me. You will see where I am going with this.
The last day of the trip came, and my significant other and I decided to hike a trail that leads to a place called Strawberry Rock. We were like, “We have to do this. We have to see this view. Is it as good as people say?” The answer is an overwhelming yes. But let me tell you about what I learned, and how I am going to apply it to my every day writing life.
We started hiking, following a snapshot of directions from a blog (because we had no idea where we were going). It was gorgeous! We saw streams, possibly heard a river, hiked through the mud, hiked through some more mud, and kept an eye out for poison oak. We hiked for about a mile and a half, and we finally came to this giant rock. This majestic, amazing, must-see boulder.
We get to the rock and look straight up. You know what was there? Two ropes. ROPES. In order to get atop the rock you had to climb a rope up the steep stone’s incline, hoping your feet don’t slip, wishing you had more of that upper body strength people are always talking about. This steep incline had a crevice right in the middle of the rock. It almost looked as if it were split in two, and there wasn’t much of a surface to gain traction.
I look up and my body starts shaking. I start talking out loud, “I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” My head is moving back and forth saying “no” and I start crying. I grab this wet, cold, old rope that is tied to an old tree root, praying that this rope doesn’t break, the root doesn’t snap, and my body can pull me up this rope.
I was half-way up this rock, and I paused. My significant other said, “Take your time, Honey. Everything is fine. You can do this. I know you can.” And I’d reply, “No, I can’t. I can’t do it.” Tears were leaking from the corner of my eyes as I slowly pulled myself up. It took me a good ten minutes. It was the longest ten minutes of my life.
Yay, I make it to the top. Joke is on me because there is another rock I’d have to climb to get to the very top of the rock. Now listen here, there was a smaller rock on my current level that looked real comfy. I couldn’t get atop the next rock because the only thing below me was forest, and my body locked. So, I stopped and parked my happiness right on the little rock below the big one. I was so proud of myself though. I still made it. I climbed up that rope with tears and all, and was able to see this life-changing view (which is the picture for this blog).
What’s this have to do with writing? Well, I’m comparing my experience to what I’m reading in Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir to a Craft.” Stephen King is fearless in his writing. He has had years of learning his skillset while most of us young writers are struggling with identifying what our skillset is.
He struggled during his years to get to where he is now. We are going to struggle. We are going to be scared at times along our journey. And that rope that I mentioned earlier? Think of that rope as your journey to the top. There are times where we will cry because of failure and rejection. That rope is going to hurt. You will probably wonder if you can do this, or may find yourself asking, “Why am I doing this?” Because once you get to the top, it’s going to feel so good. It’s going to be so good to have that manuscript finished, or book finally published. It will be beautiful.
It might sound cliché, but that rope is a lifeline, and I’m still climbing it.