Keep Climbing

About a year ago, my cousin posted a photo of himself and his daughter at the top of the Manitou Incline trail in Colorado. Only 1 mile long. 2,744 steps. 2,000 foot elevation gain. The average grade for the trail is 45%, in some places, it's as steep as 68%. The base of the incline sits at 6,600 feet above sea level and finishes at 8,600 feet. Athletes come from all over the world to make the climb.

I'm the kind of person who sees those photos and thinks - I could do that, I'd like to do that. But let's face it, that one mile climb is not for the unprepared or the faint of heart. It takes 3 -4 hours for emergency personnel to reach a hiker who needs help on the trail. It takes workouts and workouts and workouts to get ready. Those of us living at or near sea level need to acclimate to the altitude to make the climb. 

Here's the thing. I am doing that climb in the book world. Revising, tweaking, and tightening lines and chapters. Writing query letters and sending off sample pages. The oxygen is thinner up here. Sometimes, it's really, really quiet. I have to breathe deeply to steady myself and keep going. I'm only at the outset, there's still a lot of altitude to conquer. There are going to be some screaming muscles. But, whatever, I'm alive and doing it. And when I remember to pick my head up and look around, the view is fine.



Rock Climbing

The above photo is of me (tucked behind the word News) circa 1980's, climbing a cliff face in the Rocky Mountains. In the cold. And rain. Sleek and slippery rock. The folks up top offer words of support, as well as a rope belay to catch me if I fall. I don't have to die. But the climb? I'm on my own. 

No one pulls the climber to the top. Steady, clear-headed footsteps on tiny rock ledges and long reaches with arms that search for nooks and crannies big enough for fingertips propel her upward. The climber has to trust her quivering leg muscles, her choice of handholds. She's got to believe she can do it.

The above photo could be of me, circa the 20-teens, writing and working to publish a book. Writing a book about learning to love a troubled son to and through his death by suicide - or writing any book - is a slippery and sometimes dangerous climb. Finding a publisher? Even more so. I sent out my first query letter at the end of April. So far ... the sound of raindrops on the cliff face. But I trust my quivering legs and my choice of handholds. It may be a cold and tedious climb, but I plan on reaching the top.