Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, June 21, 2010

Have You Arrived?

Recently I was in an airport. Okay, recently I am always in airports. But anyway, I was in an airport looking up at the board to see what gate my flight was leaving from. Two guys stopped beside me and began looking for their flight. They became visibly concerned when they couldn’t find their flight anywhere on the board.

“Do you think it’s been canceled?” the first guy asked, searching the display.

“It would still be listed even it was canceled,” the second guys said. They went back and forth for several minutes before realizing they were looking at arrivals instead of departures.

“That’s stupid.” The first guy shook his head. “Why do they even list arrivals inside security? It’s not like anyone waiting to pick someone up can get this far.”

The other guy thought for a minute, and said, “I guess they want you to be able to see if you’ve arrived.”

I thought about the comments all the way to my next destination—both why the airport lists arrivals inside security, and the second guy’s suggestion about seeing if you’ve arrived.

How many of us hope we will “arrive” one day? And wouldn’t it be nice to see our name in lights on a big board just so we know for sure that we have arrived? What does it mean to arrive? When I was in high school I was sure graduation meant I had arrived. Or marriage. Or buying a house. Or having kids.

Each time I thought I had arrived, I discovered there was still further to go. In the writing world we often think getting published will mean we’ve arrived. I’ve heard authors say that since they’ve published x number of books, they no longer need editing, or writing classes, or critique groups.

Good friend, great person, wonderful writer, and NY Times bestseller, Aprilynne Pike had an interesting take on this in a recent class she taught. She talked about how at different stages in her writing career she thought she was finally “all that,” only to be brought back to Earth shortly thereafter.

She suggested that a writer should never feel that they know everything or that they stink to high heavens. A writer should have the attitude of (and I am paraphrasing here) I am good enough to get published but there is more I can learn.

I’ve tried to raise my children with the confidence to believe in themselves. I firmly believe that many of the biggest mistakes kids (and adults) make are the result of trying to impress others because they don’t believe in themselves enough to trust their own judgment. At the same time, we need to constantly remind ourselves that no matter how far we’ve come or what we’ve accomplished, there is always so much more we can learn. I think that’s true in writing and equally as true in life.


At 6/22/2010 11:26 AM, Blogger Megs said...

Wow. This is just what I needed to read aloud to myself today. Being a mom has slowed some things down but sped other things up. It's thrown me off a little, and I am not able to focus on some things like I could before I had my little guy. I seriously was just thinking, right before I read this, that I am nowhere near where I want to be in my achievements. Then this was just a click away. Thanks!

At 6/22/2010 4:30 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

I never think that I've arrived. I always have the feeling I'm still scrambling to get to the airport. :-(

But I still like reading your blog posts. :-)

At 6/22/2010 5:48 PM, Blogger Debra Erfert said...

I feel like I'm perpetually stuck in traffic, creeping along, and essentially getting nowhere fast. But then someone comes along and makes me take a good look at what I have accomplished. Although I may not be exactly where I’d like to be at the moment, if I crane my neck high enough, I can almost visualize where I’ll end up if I stay on course. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not the only one on the road.

At 6/22/2010 11:49 PM, Blogger Jolene said...

My dad used to tell me ALL THE TIME - "The more you know about something, the less you realize you know."

At 6/24/2010 6:24 PM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

I read a very good article a while ago - in the Law Society Gazette of all places - in which two quotes by the writer (a novelist) stood out. First, he said that staying published is as difficult as getting published. With 7 years between my second and third books, and five rejections during those years, I agree. Second, he said that when you are trying to sell a book it feels like the ultimate achievement, that you will have "arrived" when it makes it to print, but "it very quickly just becomes something you did."


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