The Extraordinary Writing Life
Lonnie Dupre (photo source: en.protothema.gr)
Recently I had the privilege to attend a presentation given by arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre (www.lonniedupre.com). This man is amazing and, I think, a little crazy. Needless to say, I liked the guy.
I’m not going to go into details about his adventures because, frankly, I doubt I can give them the justice they deserve. I encourage all my readers to check out his website, provided above. What I do want to focus on is the explanation he gave for why he does what he does.
He said that, while watching news coverage of the Apollo 11 mission, he saw a view of the earth from the Moon and determined, there and then, to not let his life be ordinary. After the presentation I asked him if that was truly a conscious decision or if it simply planted a seed that, nurtured by other life experiences, grew healthy and strong. He answered that it was, most definitely, a conscious decision.
I told him at the time, and am sharing with you now, that I believe this is a conscious decision every successful person must make at some point in their life.
Now, I’m not suggesting that all of us need to rush out and risk our lives performing some sort of daring do. Our main characters do that on our behalf and, more importantly, that’s not what living an extraordinary life is all about. Extraordinary living is a mindset in that, whatever it is we do, we throw body and soul, our entire essence, into it.
As this is a blog for writers, what does that look like for us?
First and foremost, it means we pour all our blood, sweat, and tears into our manuscripts. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this point because that’s what writers do. It’s almost why we write. We want our thoughts, ideas, imaginations, and emotions out there for all the world to consume.
Beyond that, there is the whole business side of things – querying, marketing, building a platform, and so on. These are the things most writers tell me they dislike. Since I’m in the querying trenches at the moment, I sympathize. However, if we are dedicated to not allowing our lives to be ordinary, these things need to be attacked and endured with the same zeal we have when putting words into our manuscripts.
I think it’s a case of not losing sight of the adventure of achievement when we are feeling overwhelmed by the hardships we encounter along the way. When I saw pictures of Mr. Dupre, his face red from exposure, ice clinging to his whiskers too thick to pull off without taking his upper lip off with it, I can’t imagine those were the extraordinary aspects he was searching for in his life. Being the first man to summit the mountain of Denali, solo and in winter, was.
So maybe receiving rejection after rejection from literary agents is our version of facing polar bears in the wild. Being ordered to revise ad nauseam by publishers might be our enduring frostbite. Market forces making our really wonderful but not-trending-at-the-moment stories equates to falling into a crevasse, killing our manuscripts outright. The extraordinary writer is going to keep querying, is going to make those revisions again and again. The extraordinary writer, whose manuscript is DOA, is going to write another book and start marketing it to agents and publishers. Eventually, the extraordinary will succeed because, while setbacks are common, failure is not an option. The biggest point is that, when all is said and done, the extraordinary writer is going to be able to look back on their writing life and say, despite everything else, “I gave it all I had, and more!”
That is what it means to be extraordinary.