That’s my new motto, my new favorite mantra. That’s the goal on any given day. Not transforming the entire world in one fell swoop, or getting on the cover of Time Magazine, just shining a little light in my corner of the world. If I do that, I am done for the day.
It has long been my belief that earth is kind of like middle school. We have some evolved souls floating around, the 8th graders (at least that’s how they do it in our town). We have some newbie 5th graders who will believe just about anything. But taken as a whole, this planet is kind of a juvenile mess (myself included, of course.)
If I can reach for a thousand words that come from a real/er place, that help me pass some of my studies, and maybe also inspire others, I’m happy. For today.
I have mixed feelings about using the term “sherpa” as a metaphor for being someone’s guide to the writing process. On the one hand, I kind of hate how popular it has become. The phrase “digital sherpa,” for example, to describe someone who can increase your online platform or enhance your etailing efforts is so incongruous as to just be plain wrong.
At the same time, writers like company. They like to hear that you’ve been up the mountain of writing a book a few dozen times before — even though it always looks different, of course, when it’s your book, author…
I have found that writers are especially grateful for a sherpa when they are merrily tromping up the lower reaches of a trail after having left base camp, doing some good climbing and starting to sweat but being content that they are getting somewhere… and then they look up and the mountain top is towering over them, a sheer precipice they could never imagine scaling. Because sometimes the closer you get, the further the goal looks and it’s helpful to know that that’s all part of it.
P.S. I have a friend whose family trade is being a sherpa, like a real sherpa, in Nepal. In fact, their last name is Sherpa. Anyway, he told me that most something Westerners don’t know which is that every sherpa carries a body bag in their pack for the hikers who don’t make it back alive. But of course we don’t tell the writers that…
I had a client recently begin her memoir on a lark. Pretty quickly she realized that this process is not for the faint of heart. And there’s probably nothing that can soften that.
For a memoir that is any good, we have to go there, and we have to stay there. And we’re going to have to write all about what it was like on the inside beneath the revenge fantasies that may have prompted us to write this thing in the first place.
I believe this is where opening a can of worms as a simile can be applied…because those worms might not be great looking and they might go in every direction and they are impossible to get back into the tin, once the lid has been pulled jaggedly back.
I would preach, and also hopefully practice, that when we are writing about real stuff more real stuff tends to come up. And not always in a good way.
That, to me, means I have to enjoy the act of writing as much as I can. Choose my hours, my implements, my setting, and my preparation with care. I have to really settle into the process, and not only respect it, but enjoy it. Love it, in fact, because it helps bring increasing clarity to our lives.
Then the work gets done and it doesn’t feel so much like work. Does that resonate?