Friday, October 14, 2011

Just Over The Next Hill


When our children were smaller, we had a lake house about an hour’s drive from Dallas. In the time-honored tradition of children everywhere, they began asking “How much longer?” and “Are we there yet?” shortly after we left home. I knew the landmarks along the road well enough that I was able predict our arrival before we crested the last hill. Matter of fact, we made a game of it. I’d borrow a line from their favorite Muppet, The Amazing Mumford, and say, “Okay, it’s time. Say it.” And they’d repeat the magic words: “A la peanut butter sandwiches. Make Runaway Bay appear.” And sure enough, it did.
Don’t we writers wish we knew what was over the next hill? We’d like to be able to say, “A la peanut butter sandwiches. Make an agent offer representation.” Or “A la peanut butter sandwiches. Make an editor offer a contract.” But it doesn’t work that way. We don’t know the landmarks of this journey, so we have to wait, crest the next hill, and if nothing positive happens, press on to the next one.
Of course, even if there is a contract over the next hill, that isn’t the end of the journey. There are the edits—macro edits, line edits, galley proofs. There’s cover art, a possible title change, all sorts of things. And along the way, we’re expected to help market our work, starting well before the date of publication.
I've had four novels of medical suspense published, and I've recently signed with Thomas Nelson Company for the publication of three more, so I sort of have an idea what's over the next hill. But even if I were to keep cresting hills and nothing appears, I don’t believe I'd stop writing. Because writers don’t stay on this road just hoping to see a goal fulfilled. We stay on the road because writing is what we do—for many of us it’s what we feel we’ve been called to do. So we keep doing it, no matter what appears over the next hill.
What are you hoping to see over your next hill?

7 comments:

Erica Vetsch said...

I'm not sure what I'm hoping to see over the next hill. Another contract. A new writing friend. Another hill to climb?

Carol J. Garvin said...

I need a critique partner, but for now I keep writing and not doing very much else. Of course, what I'd really like to see over the next hill is an interested agent, but unless I put myself out there, it won't happen. As your analogy suggests, we have to keep going in the right direction if we hope to reach the desired destination.

Richard L. Mabry, MD said...

Erica, there will always be another hill, won't there? Keep on climbing.

Carol, I have no doubt that you'll get that agent, and the contract that follows. Persistence and attention to the craft are powerful tools, and you're exercising them.

Thanks to you both for your comments.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Dr. Mabry,
I just came across your book "Code Blue" while at Barnes & Noble, and I am looking forward to reading it as it seems like an exciting novel.

Glad I found your blog.

Doris

Myra Johnson said...

Way, WAY behind on visiting my favorite blogs so just saw your news about Thomas Nelson! Congratulations!

Richard Mabry said...

And the hits--I mean comments--keep coming. Thanks, Myra and Doris. Appreciate it.

Katie said...

What am I hoping to find over the hill... well, publication would be a great thing to find but it probably isn't this hill. This hill is more focused on employment.

Congratulations about your contract!
<>< Katie