Writing is a Journey by S P Mount

Author SP Mount

I often think of my writing journey as an expedition through the mountains – and not just the local kind either; the ones you can drive up and take a seat on a bench to admire the sunset over the city, no; I’m talking Rockies here. Precipitous terrain. And what better than animal guides to lead the way?

And when I started out that venture, an intensely passionate young wolf, treading ahead without observing the lay of the land, I met with a sheer cliff-face, scoffing, demanding I turn around, tail between my legs.

Like many, I started writing without having the slightest clue, simply penning from the heart because the gift is inherent. But, as I soon found out, that was incredibly naïve; much more than just that required.

An otter, quirky, unorthodox, my passion intrinsic, but what did I know of the mountain at all, the intimacy of its spiritual essence, its magnitude of pride & honour commanding to be scaled?

I unapologetically broke every rule that I didn’t know existed. Never knowing when to stop writing, until 600,000 words later. And with zero editing, I proudly printed off my amazing book and hired a forklift truck to take it up the post office to send it off to a publisher without even having queried them first. Ye-s, not long before I’d become the next J K Rowling. Ha!

A raven, highly enthusiastic, perched atop lofty peaks, my name whistling between. Ye-s, I’d soar that mountainous terrain. But I plummet instead, spiralling and splattering.

And then I discovered an amateur writing site, where immediately I felt intimidated; people’s ability putting my efforts to shame; using words like ‘exposition’ and ‘verisimilitude’ that I didn’t even understand, let alone have a clue as to how to apply them to my work.

A lame goose now, limping treacherous, infinite lands where I encounter many an obstacle; scaling icy plateaus that slip me down deceptive paths into mouths of predators.

Obviously I’d a great deal to learn, and so I dove right in, surprisingly being quite well received for a novice. ‘Encouraging.” And I soaked up reviews on not only my, but everyone else’s work, embraced constructive criticism while seeing others becoming highly defensive, not willing to learn (and who still can be; the same folks not moved on any; their writing unchanged, still amateur after all these years).

And now I swim a mountain torrent; a salmon, electric, focused, intuitive and wholly creative. Upstream, to pinnacles low, but the vista hazy, a mist lingering a precipice that still I might plunge.

I learned how and how not to interact with online society; the written word not always perceived as intended – especially amid different culture; easily lost in translation – and becoming annoyed at the sugar-coating being sprinkled liberally, artificial sweetening that, despite what they say, still begets rot. And then I found my clique; invited to a writers’ critique group where people stirred cups of libretto without taking sugar at all.

I build a dam upon those that would battle my wit to cross the river, for I am beaver, hear me… well… thump… really. Cunning. My mental acuity, razor sharp, but compassionate, generous, helpful and loyal too.

In this more ‘serious’ writers’ group, I discovered the importance of presentation in ways that maybe I hadn’t really thought of: similar size paragraphs; a mixture of long and short sentences; avoiding passive voice; learning how to use semicolons properly; the importance of consistent tense; avoiding the word ‘was’; how to show and not tell, and much, much more – invaluable stuff for a newbie.

Pragmatic, methodical, reaching higher plateaus where, as a bear, I enter a den and prance out a deer, discover my humour, a natural intelligence that, when combined, will write me well.

And then, going onto my first writing course, I pleasantly found that it’d all prepared me; I wasn’t clueless; actually had an inkling of much that I was to be taught in class. But still, a great deal to learn: the formulaic and technical aspects; how to create ‘FBI profiles’ for primary and secondary characters; what they should and shouldn’t be doing, and finally realising that one needed to develop an intimate relationship with anything before effectively dumping its rulebook ass.

And earned, those wings, I have, soaring now, eagle-eyed, holier-than-thou, over a mountain pass, a road to nowhere on which I spy people driving, blinkered, believing they can bypass monumental obstacles with the greatest of ease.

The point is, I believe something like joining a writing site is necessary for any writer. An ‘apprenticeship’ if you like. But I wonder in this age of indie publishing if they’re being forsaken; new writers going straight for the jugular; publishing their stories without any kind of training at all, and perhaps wondering why they can’t even give their books away?

And some might just be; the writing site that I’m (still) technically a member of has all but crumbled; been stagnant for months; not updated by its administrators. And that’s a shame, for some kind of basic training just makes ‘sheer’ sense. Doesn’t it? Not even Sir Edmund Hillary decided to scale Everest without having some know how.

Oh yes, and those 600k words I mentioned? Hardest thing I ever did was to edit that story time and time again as my writing ability evolved. Today though, I credit it for me putting into practice everything I ever learned. Yes, an invaluable tool, although I really wouldn’t recommend doing it that way at all; save yourself the trouble; learn how to write properly from the outset. It’s all grown up now, divided into two books @ 200k each, and I’ve very proud of my first born, even if it’s teen years were terrible.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Sherpa waiting….

SP Mount grew up in a children’s home in Scotland, dreaming about living in North America. With an intense desire to travel the planet but unable to afford a day at the beach, he literally entered into a world of tourism that, after living and working in many countries, eventually saw him land in Canada where he finally pursued his lifelong passion for writing. To date he has published, across genres, two novels and five self-anthologies, all containing his inimitable, underlying trademark of clever and candid humour. After many years in beautiful BC, he and his Miniature Schnauzer, MacGregor, dream about living in Scotland. Learn more about SP Mount from his blog and his website. Be sure to check out his Amazon author page and his Smashwords author profile. You can also find him on Facebook.

Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

12 thoughts on “Writing is a Journey by S P Mount”

  1. I loved the use of the animals, interspersed between the slices of this author’s journey as a writer, from early on to NOW; I understand the spiritual connection between his writer’s soul and the use of each animal spirit’s unique power that helps him evolve to the next level;
    To some extent it reminded me of my own animal spiritual connections…as i am known to speak as Windhawk with my partner JD Couch as Snowhawk, and discuss many subjects in our chants which can be found in the middle section of our EBook Shattered Dreams, or in another EBook of ours, Little Moon and the Spirit Animals.
    Ours has a Native American theme, but I also know how the Celts of the Old World, Scotland chief among them…had spirit connections to animals, ranging from hawks to deer to beaver and fish.
    In olden days, the peoples all over the world had a natural affinity for animals and a high respect for their wisdom, so reading this special journey made by SP Mount, thrills me with its truth and accuracy. I loved its visual-ness, a peace he carries with him through a path not so easy to find his place as a published and successful author in a life that is far from ordinary.

    1. Wow… and here was me just inspired by my twp-yr-old Godson’s ‘Bunny Rabbit and Friends’ book and their frolic through the magical forest. Who knew?

      Seriously though, glad your spirit connected here Windhawk (what a great name). The idea of the animal guides of the Native American simply came to me as I went on a metaphorical hike to come up with something unusual for this post (saves shoe leather). Perhaps then I was indeed being guided by one or two of them, and so I hope I did what each represents justice.

      Thanks for commenting so thoroughly.

  2. Thank you Melissa, you know, I think it is was Margaret Atwood who said (while being interviewed alongside a retired brain surgeon who was asked what he planned to do now, and saying that he would probably write a book) “Hmmm… maybe I’ll become a brain surgeon.” Lol. (Or maybe it was Anne Rice). Loved that. Glad you liked the post. 🙂

  3. Enjoyed your writer’s journey’ SP. Love the image of a forklift delivering your first manuscript to the publisher. Whether it was ‘good’ or not I admire the volume of words that seem to so effortlessly pour from your pen. Even after years of studying writing the bits and pieces I have managed to scratch could be delivered by a carrier pigeon. I am so jealous. (But happy for you.) Enjoy the view!

  4. Actually Verlie, that was one of my biggest issues, I unapologetically, unabashedly digressed so much that I sometimes got lost in my own words, and even thought I would set a new standard. Lol.

    I still very much write ‘ad lib’ – e.g. I don’t know what’s coming out until one word leads to the next and a sentence is born, a paragraph, a chapter and finally a story; triggers being pulled all over the place as I go; the whole thing unfolding almost by its own volition. I have so many WIPs in progress it blows my mind, but I do get to them all in the end – it just depends which part of me is writing which story (I call myself a bit of a ‘Sybil’: can only approach each according to the right persona coming through, or my mood, whatever, but that part of me that is right for each of them.)

    These days I’ve learned to hone that tendency to go off on tangents though, and when the ‘real’ editing phase comes, I have no issue ‘killing my babies’ and it’s a lot easier because I do know what’s unacceptable from the get go.

    I’m sure what words you HAVE penned are highly tuned and significant.

    Thank you for your comment.

    1. Thank you Sue, I also wanted to make mention of the pack I made along the route too, some falling or jumping off cliffs, but others climbing with me still, enduring, growing alongside; their hiking gear upgrading all the time.

  5. Oh what a tale you weave, SP! I loved it! Of course storytelling is in the blood if you’re a Celt. I’m not saying that story telling’s not in the blood if you’re not a Celt; just that it has been a Celtic thing since way back in the dim, dark mists of time. Let’s face it, when there was no other entertainment and, for nine months of the year, it was too cold and wet to venture outside, or icy enough to freeze the… oh well, you get the picture! Apart from the carnal activities, and you have to have a rest every once in a while, the only thing left was to gather around a roaring great fire and tell stories.

    So the story telling part comes easy to us, but the writing of the stories is an entirely different thing and, yes, a journey indeed. In fact a trek, whether you take the official route or the unsanctioned course, not for the faint hearted, with no guarantees or assurances of survival. Also, before you embark, make sure you have all the obligatory baggage: a stout heart, an open mind and a malleable ego. Of course if you don’t have all of the aforementioned before you set out, you will acquire them along the way; or you will fall by the wayside.

    1. You make a very good point TD; the telling of stories is entirely different to the writing of them; what might be fascinating; told around a camp fire or in the hairdressers or over a dinner table, highly entertaining accounts of which people might say, ‘you should write a book’, yes, they CAN be great, but telling them like that and showing them in writing are two separate things.

      And yes if you don’t have heart, then, together with the the liver and lungs, as I say in ‘Prickly Scots’, it’ll be stuffed in the sheep’s stomach – the stories better told over a feast. (Haggis, the way it was meant to be, lest anyone didn’t get that.)

      And as far as the Scots go, I always wondered what our ancestors did in-between dressing in green and purple and lying down over the moors waiting to jump out at any Sassenach that might happen along.

      Thanks for commenting; glad you like the post.

Comments are closed.