The Writer’s Voyage and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
by Kathy Carmichael
It’s me again. Still writing and submitting. Still unpublished. But this time I’m not going to talk about the business of writing, or whine about not selling. Nor am I even going to become theoretical or metaphysical and make suppositions about there being a blackhole hidden somewhere in New York City into which manuscripts disappear never to be heard of again.
Instead, I’m going to talk about reading to my eight year old son. We just finished reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (for the second time—he adores the story) and as we read, we discussed things like allegories, similes, metaphors. In the next to the last chapter of the story, I was struck by an idea that had relevance in my own life as a writer.
In particular, I mean the scene where Aslan has Susan and Lucy hop on his back and rushes as quickly as he can to the White Witch’s castle. His goal was clear—get to that castle as soon as possible.
How does this contain relevance for me? Well, as an unpublished author who’s written a number of books, my goal has been clear, too. Sell a book or three. But what had I’d forgotten en route to that goal? It was there in the book as plain as can be.
I forgot to enjoy the voyage.
I’d forgotten to be like Lucy curling her hand into Aslan’s thick rich mane. I’d forgotten to look around me and enjoy the new places and the beauty of nature along the path. I forgot I was sharing my journey as Lucy shared hers with her sister Susan.
Once I acknowledged the journey itself as having meaning, I began to think over my personal journey and all the significant steps along the way to where I am now. First and foremost, there are my sisters: the wonderful other writers, both published and unpublished who have become dear friends and acquaintances. The Tumnus’ who I’d never have met had I not been on this journey: editors, agents, booksellers, reviewers, readers.
I’d forgotten how far I’ve come: now when I sit down to write my story, it’s not if I finish it, but when. I’ve learned to trust my instincts and I know if I’ve taken a wrong turn in a story, I can find my way back. I’ve learned to speak in public, no longer blushing and stammering but now I’m able to not only cope, I can deliver a workshop and enjoy every moment of helping others to learn. I’ve learned how to pay forward, judging contests and helping other writers just beginning along our same path. I’ve learned patience and that a goal too easily accomplished can be shallow. I’ve learned persistence and realized how deeply stubborn I can be.
For today, I’m going to look around me and find happiness in where I am now—midway through a manuscript that’s not going to write itself. Bound closely to other writers with the same or simliar goals, selling a first book or a fiftieth. Grateful to the people who’ve helped me along this voyage.
While I’d love to close this with an announcement of my first sell, I feel my ending is better. For today, I’m embarking on my voyage with my eye on the landscape, yet with the goal remaining in sight. I wish each of you an enjoyable and satisfying voyage.