I sometimes pet sit. One of the dogs I walk takes us through a moss-lined, wooded path under a canopy of green trees and climbing vines. A stream runs alongside. Ahead, near the wooden footbridge, slick with moss, I can hear racing water. Because the dog I walk is a hound, we frequently pause so he can conduct in-depth sniffs of particular odors. This gives me time to notice and enjoy to flowers, ferns, plants, orange-capped mushrooms and small wildlife. I see ducks, squirrels and untold numbers of birds. And insects beyond number.
Today I glanced back to where we’d come. It was a pretty view. Green moss rolled out like a carpet. Trees reached out, touching branches to form an arch. Ferns and flowers made countless bouquets and fallen flower petals formed a white trail, stark against the green. It made me want to go back that way instead of crossing the bridge to the road, like we normally do. I knew what was back there and it was pleasant.
And the whole event, which lasted maybe two minutes before the hound was done sniffing and investigating, got me to thinking. As writers, is it important to stop and think about where we’ve come from? At least once in a while?
Only we can tell about the path we’ve been on, first the road to publication and our journey since. We know how hard or easy it was, how long it took, how pretty of an experience or how painful and terrible. Knowing this, having the memories fixed in our minds, we tend to concentrate on the trail ahead.
Where do we want to see ourselves? Like the dog and I, we must cross the bridge and trudge up the road to reach his driveway and ultimately home. He has a bone and water waiting for him. As a writer, I know where I want to me by the end of this year and where I hope to be five-ten and twenty years from now. I have a plan — a footbridge and road– to get me there.
However, as I reflected today, it might be wise to include some reflective study in that plan. Once in a while, I should pause on my writing journey and look back at where I came from. The awkward first starts, the endless queries and just as endless rejections, the first few acceptances. The high of the first time seeing my name in print. The author events, workshops, practice of my craft, networking and the people I have met, seeing my book on a library shelf for the first time, and the list goes on. All the great, wonderful, exhilarating and all the sad, heart-breaking and bad things that have made me the writer I am today.
And in two years or five years I will be a different writer then I am today.