When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, climber George Mallory famously said, “Because it’s there”. While that is a great quote, he actually had a great deal more to say on the subject.
One must conquer, achieve, get to the top; one must know the end to be convinced that one can win the end
– to know there’s no dream that mustn’t be dared…Have we vanquished an enemy? None, but ourselves.
There’s no dream that mustn’t be dared…. I love those words.
As I close out 2022 and make my plans for 2023, I find myself thinking about Mallory — and Everest — quite a bit. Every yearI look for a word that encompasses my goals and mindset for the next twelve months. I tried on a bunch of words this month – tenacity, magic, chill (which was also this year’s word), but none seemed to fit. Then one afternoon, a friend joked that my writing goals were a little like wanting to reach the top of Mount Everest.
Interestingly enough, I’d heard a podcast about George Mallory a few weeks before. Being a hug believer in synchronicity, I decided the universe was delivering a message.
My word for 2023 is Everest.
Ask any writer and they will tell you that writing a book is like climbing a mountain. It’s a long, plodding, difficult experience. Publishing your book is akin to reaching the summit. Every writer has their own summit, that is, their own pinnacle of success. For me, that summit is having an upmarket fiction title published by a Top 5 publisher.
Which brings me back to George Mallory. There were other mountains Mallory could have climbed. He could have tackled Kilimanjaro or one of the Katmandu mountains . When, during his first two Everest excursions, he failed to reach the summit, he could have gone back to England and consoled himself with having scaled to a world-record altitude of nearly 27,000 feet and surveying the first paths up the mountain. But he wasn’t satisfied with settling. He wanted the summit, and so he returned in 1924 to try again. Standing on the top of Everest was so important to him that he was willing to die to achieve it.
Now, I’m not willing to die for a publishing contract; that would be extreme. However, like Mallory, I refuse to settle for anything less than Everest. If this book fails to get me to the top, I’ll try again. And again. Eventually I will achieve my goal.
No one knows if Mallory made it to the top of Mount Everest. I’d like to think he did. On record, the first man to reach the summit is Sir Edmund Hillary, and guess what? He failed on his first try too. I take heart in that fact, along with what he said when he failed.
“[Everest]You beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you’re
going to grow…and I’m still growing.”
And While We’re Talking About Hills….
The other day, I was about to argue a point on Twitter when it dawned on me, that no matter what I said, I wouldn’t change the person’s mind. Did I want to spend my time in a pointless argument about a subject that had zero impact on my life? Was this hill worth dying on?
I deleted the tweet.
Over the next twelve months, there will be many, many social posts and articles on which I will have an opinion. In ninety-nine percent of the cases, responding to them will do nothing except make me more angry when someone inevitably disagrees. Therefore, in addition to my word of the year, I have a phrase. Words of advice, if you will.
Choose Your Hills Wisely.
In other words, never resist the impulse to step away from the keyboard and save your energy for hills worth dying on.
Now that I’ve beaten my mountain metaphor to death, let me add that this is my final blog of 2022. I’m taking the next two weeks to (hopefully) finish my manuscript and celebrate Christmas with my family.
Whatever you celebrate – Chanukah, Christmas, Solstice – may your day be filled with good health and good tidings. Thanks all for reading.
I’ll see you in 2023.