5 Reasons Writing a Book is Like Climbing a 14er
For someone with an admittedly short attention span (me), I seem to choose pursuits in life that require an awful lot of perseverance. So today, I’m going to talk about 5 Reasons Writing a Book is Like Climbing a 14er.
For the non-mountaineers reading this, a 14er is a mountain peak above 14,000 feet in altitude. In Colorado, where I live, there are 53 of them. I like hiking in general, but climbing a 14er is not your average scenic hike. We’re talking major elevation gains and decreasing oxygen, people. You have to want this.
At first, it might seem like writing a book—an activity during which you spend a great deal of time with your butt planted in a chair—would not be very much at all like a wilderness excursion requiring considerable physical conditioning.
But that would be wrong. Here are 5 ways in which these two activities are similar:
#1 Initial excitement of planning/deciding to do it.
Getting an idea for a new book is exciting. You’re full of ideas, planning new characters, imagining what it will be like when it’s done, and you feel powerful. You know it will be work, but the idea is just so good, it will be worth it. Deciding to climb a mountain, and picking which one, is exciting, too. You’re looking at fantastic photographs other hikers have posted, planning which routes will get you there, what physical training you need to do in the meantime, and imagining the sense of achievement when you stand at the top.
#2 At some point, you are going to ask yourself “why am I doing this?”
Every writer I know of has, at some point, looked at what they’ve written and lost hope. For one reason or another (your plot didn’t hold together as well as you initially thought, or the market for your type of story has just tanked, or any number of other writer-related insecurities), you want to abandon the project.
At some point, while hiking a 14er, many hikers (myself included) are out of breath, battered by wind, out of the ideal shape we promised ourselves we’d be in, and looking ahead at the miles yet to climb, thinking, “why did I think this was a good idea?” It would be much easier to just turn around and head back down…
(Note: with hiking, there can be safety concerns that lead to abandoning a hike. Know the difference between perseverance and foolishness. Lightning, in particular, is no joke if you’re above tree line. If a storm is approaching, get to safety. The mountain will still be there another day.)
#3 You keep going anyway.
Even when every sentence is a struggle, you keep writing. You may walk away from the screen for a little while, but you eventually come back and re-attack the project. Maybe you do have to do some editing, and work on your craft. Or maybe you give yourself permission for that first draft to suck miserably, knowing that you can always edit it later. Whatever. You keep writing, because you know that walking away would lead to regrets you don’t want to live with.
Same with 14ers. If you want to make it to the top, you keep planting one foot in front of the other. You rest, drink some water, and Just. Keep. Going.
When you summit a 14er with someone, you share a bond with that person forever. The more epic the mountain, the more epic the bond. Hikers also tend to help one another out—it’s the classic man vs. nature struggle, and all men (and women) on the mountain are in it together.
Authors do the same thing—at least, I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of authors who think it’s important to help each other be the best we can be, whether that means helping a new writer improve her craft, or helping promote a new book you’re excited about.
#5 The Ultimate Accomplishment
There is no feeling that beats the feeling of typing the words “The End.” Except, maybe, the feeling of reaching the summit of a tough 14er. There’s a reason authors shout it from the rooftops when their book hits the shelves (or goes live at Amazon) – they’ve worked for that day. Same reason you’ll see summit photos plastered all over the walls and social media pages of an avid hiker.
It’s also the feeling that makes both writers and hikers bask in the glory for only a short while…because before long, they need to start planning the next book, or the next peak to climb.
Entrusted: A Relic Guardians Novel
To protect her country’s future, she’ll have to commit treason…
ENTRUSTED by Allegra Gray is a stunning historical Young Adult masterpiece of suspense, hope, and determination. This story follows orphaned Audrey as she’s tasked with keeping ancient relics safe from tyrannical hands and their unholy deeds. With the help of a charming adventurer, Tobias, Aubrey must do all she can to protect the relics she’s been entrusted to guard…even if it costs her life.
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Author: Allegra Gray
Series: Relic Guardians
Genre: Historical Young Adult
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Silverthorne Entertainment
Print Length: 85K
Format: Paperback and Digital
Print ISBN: 978-0692486146
Digital ASIN: B011MSIKQ4
Orphan Audrey Thorndale longs for the peaceful life of a convent, but with a younger brother to care for and England’s religious houses falling one by one to Henry VIII’s Reformation, she’ll have to find another way to serve God and country. The Abbot of Glastonbury, aware of Audrey’s dilemma and loathe to see the great treasures of his abbey looted and destroyed, suggests a plan that could save Audrey, the relics, and even the future of Britain…but if she agrees to it, she’ll have to commit treason.
Second son and sometime adventurer, Tobias Seybourne has never left an opportunity unexplored. He’s won the favor of the king, and is aiming for knighthood, when Abbot Whiting offers him the chance of a lifetime—partner with Audrey, and protect England’s greatest legend. Most importantly? Do it without ever giving the king a reason to suspect more devious purposes simmer beneath Tobias’s charming façade.
With help from the abbot, Audrey and Tobias set in motion a plan to ensure that when the abbey walls crumble, one particular treasure will be safely hidden elsewhere.
But as the abbot points out, the king’s minions keep close account of their plunder, and the contents of Glastonbury’s repository are well documented.
With the king’s men bearing down fast, someone must take the fall…
“You are worried that Glastonbury is in peril, and the treasures it holds will end up in the king’s coffers.”
“Yes—and no.” He eyes me. “It’s more complicated than that. You must not repeat anything you are hearing right now.”
“No, Father Abbot. Never.” If there is one thing I am, it is loyal.
“When I combine what I know—what I, myself have seen and heard—with what the monks who have already lost their homes tell me, I see a future in which certain relics of Glastonbury never make it to the king’s coffers, but are destroyed instead.” He shakes his head sadly. “The idea that the holy relics would go into the king’s hands was disturbing enough, but to destroy them? Sacrilege.
“Again, I must emphasize the importance of not repeating this conversation—to anyone. Not even Sam. The Treason Act is too loosely interpreted these days to take chances.”
I gulp, cursing myself for giving in to curiosity. Now it is my hands that tremble. I should tell him to stop, that I don’t want to hear any more, but my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. I should never have asked what was troubling him. And yet, I have the sense we have set on an irrevocable course, and I must see it through.
Finally, I pry my tongue loose. “I appreciate your honesty, Father Abbot.”
“Should Glastonbury fall, the treasures that can be measured in gold and silver will most certainly find a new home—whether it be the royal treasury or a pilferer’s stash. It is the others that trouble me.”
He rubs his temples, as though even thinking hurts. I begin moving about the room again, straightening things, dusting surfaces…the little, normal, everyday movements that I know, somehow, provide the backdrop of comfort that Abbot Whiting needs right now.
“You remember those visitors from Walsingham? They informed me that the shrine there, the shrine to the Virgin, which the king himself has visited, has been destroyed. The statue of the Virgin removed, the shrine itself despoiled, and the buildings looted. The same happened at Roche Abbey this summer.”
Finally, it sinks in, and I know exactly which of Glastonbury’s relics—one with no value in gold, but still of immeasurable worth—is troubling him so.
I stop dusting. My tongue, now loosened, does not have the sense to stop.
“If Glastonbury falls, what will become of King Arthur?”
About Allegra Gray:
Allegra Gray grew up with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds—that is, when she wasn’t focused on more practical things like, say, learning calculus. Perhaps all those stories inspired a spirit of adventure, because at the age of seventeen she embarked on a career journey that has (so far) included serving as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, grad school at Virginia Tech, teaching English, and managing defense contracts in the Middle East. The best thing about this breadth of experience? When she tried her hand at writing novels like the ones she’d always loved, she recognized at once that she’d found a true passion. Her forthcoming series, The Relic Guardians, is genre-bending mainstream/historical suspense, inspired by her long-held desire to unveil things obscured by the mists of time. Allegra is also the author of four historical romances, including the “Daring Damsels” trilogy of Nothing But Scandal, Nothing But Deception, and Nothing But Trouble.