Publishing: The Impossible Dream
“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
The second hardest permit to draw in the world of hiking and high adventure, according to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is a hike in Southern Utah called The Wave. (The hardest permit to get is rafting the Grand Canyon. *Sighs* One day...)
I put in for The Wave and other permitted hikes every year, always hopeful, but never holding my breath.
My "impossible dream" of hiking this iconic stretch of land was realized when my friend, Tara, called me up with the good news. "I drew the Wave!" You can likely imagine the squeal that phone call produced. :)
I sometimes get solicited by friends and friends of friends asking questions about publishing. I had one of these conversations just yesterday, in fact. When the young, twenty-something asked how long the road to publishing might take them, I simply said, "As long as it does. Plan for years and plan for it to be worth it."
The task of getting published is long, hard, and requires the seeker to carry their own self-worth/self-esteem on their backs throughout the process. We have to hold fast to our dreams like water in the desert because the alternative to hope is despair. The alternative to a dreamer's life is one filled with powerless resignation.
Instead of staying the night in the small town of Kanab, UT the night before the hike, we decided to leave our homes at 4:30 am and drive the 5.5 hours to the trailhead. It wasn't our brightest idea, I assure you. We didn't arrive until 10am and the temperature was already 95 degrees. The rangers at the trailhead told us the radiation off the rock would reach nearly 130 degrees that day and refused to let us take to the trail until we could prove every person in our party was capable of carrying at least three liters of water. They also plied us with salty snacks to help us retain our water over the six mile round trip.
There's a reason why BLM only allows a few people on The Wave every day. In the last five years, five people have died from exposure. The land is harsh, with almost no opportunities for shade, and since you travel over rock, there isn't a marked trail to guide you through the maze of red rock. It's easy to get lost, and even with GPS coordinates, we wandered off course more than once. This wasted time can be extremely dangerous in the summer months when the average temperature is 101 degrees and heat rises from the baking earth, blurring your vision of the horizon.
How does this relate to publishing? Well, I'll let you connect most of the dots on your own, and just leave you with a few tips for surviving the wave of publishing.
Come prepared to do something hard. This means surrounding yourself with capable friends, an original manuscript that is polished to a high shine, and enough determination to get you all the way to that blessed contract.
It might take longer than you think. Remember, there are many ways to get published and your path might not look anything like someone else's.
Rejection is just part of the process. Remember that anything worth doing requires sacrifice on the altars of awesomeness. Prepare to bleed and once that first rejection letter comes, know you're officially part of the author family. Welcome. We wear pink on Thursdays.
Appreciate the journey. Some of the most priceless lessons come from daring to do something most are too afraid to try. Be patient and keep your focus squarely planted on the horizon. Be brave. Keep taking steps forward and you'll eventually get where you want to go. You can't fail if you keep writing for the love of writing. Publishing is just the vacation postcard. The real magic is in the journey of creation.