Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Writing and Publishing Excellence

Last weekend I visited my son in California, taking him to ski and snowboard Mammoth Mountain. Until that trip, I'd only skied the Southeast and considered myself a decent skier. But Mammoth taught me a lesson in excellence.

After a seemingly endless ascent on a lift that turned my knuckles white from my terrified grip, I was quite proud to find myself looking down the huge slope beneath me, basking in the headiness of "now I've made it to the big time." But after admiring the view for a few moments, a movement in the distance behind me caught my peripheral vision - another lift that I could barely see, taking skiers to a dizzying height that dwarfed my slope in comparison. From the lofty height, expert skiers Add Imagewould shoot down a slope that appeared to be only a degree or two off from a sheer cliff.

(I took the pic from the top of my lift. The top of the higher lift ends in the top left corner of the photo.)

My slope suddenly looked rather small -- a feeling akin to the kid who thinks the McDonald's playground is cool until he sees an advertisement for Disney World.

Now don't get me wrong. The humbling experience didn't dampen my spirits. I'll always treasure the time with Benji, the breathtaking views, and the exhilarating runs down the slopes. But it was both humbling and challenging to gaze upward and realize that there was more, should I aspire to excellence in the sport.

I immediately thought of my writing and publishing. It's cool to be published with a traditional publisher and to have my ideas translated into multiple languages. But it's also cool to glance up at the lofty heights attained by the greatest authors of my genre. They keep me from getting comfortable. They challenge me to keep getting input, gleaning from their wisdom and tweaking my style.

They also challenge my marketing. By glancing up regularly at the lofty heights attained by great book marketers such as Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, I'm challenged to keep reading up on marketing, trying new methods and pursuing those that work with gusto.

So enjoy your writing and publishing at whatever level you've reached, but don't get comfortable by neglecting to regularly reflect upon the greatest in your field. There's always so much more to learn!

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