Which Mountain Will You Climb in 2014?

IMG_3276From Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life



Every year the aspiring photographer brought a stack of his best prints to an old, honored photographer, seeking his judgment. Every year the old man studied the prints and painstakingly ordered them into two piles, bad and good. Every year the old man moved a certain landscape print into the bad stack. At length he turned to theyoung man: “You submit this same landscape every year, and every year I put it on the bad stack. Why do you like it so much?” The young photographer said, “Because I had to climb a mountain to get it.”

It’s 2014 and it’s common to keep setting new creative goals and attempt to reach greater heights. But Annie Dillard’s anecdote is trying to demonstrate for us that if we want to be professionals, the product IS important whether we like it or not.

Oh, yes, it’s great to sit around and to talk about process and to come up with various strategies for how to do things and why, but ultimately, if you were looking forward to 2014 being your year of the professional writer, it’s time to take a tougher look at your work, and maybe move in a completely different direction.