Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Goals, Mountains, and Neil Gaiman

Was watching Neil Gaiman's speech to the University of the Arts Class of 2012, and was particularly struck by his comment about having envisioned his goals like a mountain, and that if he kept walking toward the mountain, he would be all right. I found myself thinking that this theory only works insofar as you only have one goal that never changes. And the thing is, goals and dreams do change, not in a bad way, but in a good evolution. To paraphrase from the movie Tangled, that's what's so good about dreams. Once one comes true, you get to go out and find a new one. And in the writing world, getting to one goal usually involves discovering whole new goals.

Because right now? I'm an unagented, unpublished writer of YA novels. My goal is to get an agent, so I can get a publisher, so I can get published, so that I can become a full time author someday. But my Big Overwhelming Current Goal is to get an agent. Getting an agent would be huge. There are people a couple steps ahead of me, though, who already have agents, and though their goals were once the same as mine, now they dream of getting larger book deals and more readers, of going on book tours or hitting the bestseller's list.

The crazy thing is? Our goals used to be exactly the same. They used to want an agent just as badly as I do now.

Then you look at people who have gotten really, really big, such as (ahem) Neil Gaiman, who's been walking this path for years and years, and you look at his dream. Write a Dr. Who episode (which he's now done.) I could never dream of writing a Dr. Who episode. Not now, anyway. Maybe someday. It's like it's a whole other mountain unto itself, one I can't even see yet, don't even realize is out there, yet.


And so it seems to me that the career of a writer is like scaling a mountain, only to realize there is another peak far above you that you're seeing now for the first time, and to set out climbing that. And each time you reach the top of the mountain, the next mountain becomes visible.

Which isn't discouraging to me. I know talk of mountains can sound discouraging, but seriously. Don't be discouraged. This means that it's almost impossible for writing as a career to plateau. There is always some place new to go and new dreams to dream and new adventures to be had. And unlike a career in, oh, say technology, it's not like the field is evolving around you and you have to struggle just to keep up. Writing as a career will stretch and keep pace with your dreams as you develop them. Which means in a way, it's up to us to keep dreaming, to keep developing those goals. We can choose whether to plateau or not.

But it also makes me think we need to choose our mountains wisely. Because mountains take an awfully long time to climb. You don't want to climb the wrong one.

Truly and always,
-Creative A

No comments:

Google Analytics