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Using Sherpa as a Metaphor

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…

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