Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Steady Climb

By Mark W. Danielson

“Climb” is a word with many meanings. In Miley Cyrus’ song, it refers to her reaching her dreams. In the entertainment industry, it frequently describes sales progression. In this article, it compares fiction writing to climbing Seoul’s Mount Namsan; the largest mountain within the city.

As with drafting manuscripts, Namsan’s gradient is steep and constant. Its endless steps can be intimidating, and yet I climb them because of the elderly. Though I could ride a gondola to the top, I prefer following the senior Koreans who still climb Namsan. These people inspire me to follow their lead in much the same way as my writing mentors have challenged me to write. Anyone facing obstacles always smiles after achieving their goals.

In this regard, scaling Namsan parallels my efforts in drafting manuscripts. While I'm elated when it’s finished, I still find plenty of challenges along the way. Editing is often more difficult than writing the initial draft, and when it's done, I’m not confident it’s perfect. The ecstatic feeling I get when a book has been picked up by a publisher is easily diminished when dealing with the business aspect. But that’s when reminiscing about the elderly Namsan climbers helps to keep things in perspective. Their images constantly remind me that as much as I enjoy writing, there is more to life than writing and selling books, and that moving forward, regardless of the struggles, is the best way to live life while still achieving goals. These lessons have stayed with me as long as those of my mentors'.

For as long as I’m able, I will continue to climb mountains and draft manuscripts. Perhaps when I’m old enough, others might follow in my footsteps. I haven’t caught up with Namsan’s elderly yet, but I’m getting there. So far they’ve taught me that life is a series of steps, and that all I can do is stay focused and climb them one at a time. Perhaps that's what Miley Cyrus had in mind in her song, too. That being said, I eagerly await my next lesson, and hope I have many years left.


Sheila Deeth said...

Nice inspiring article. Thanks.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Thank you, Sheila. And welcome to our blog:)

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm inspired as well, Mark. What a shame that the young in this country no longer revere the elderly who have such sage advice and experiences to share.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Jean, the lack of respect for the elderly is not so much a cultural issue as it is generational. Instant media bombardment, such as that from Facebook, texting, and cell phones, has made this a global issue by creating a feeling of self importance for our younger generations. It's also a physical fact that younger kids think differently than older people. As the brain develops, it actually shifts its precedence from emotional rule to logical. While this shift may reduce creativity for many, it also reduces the need to fight. This helps explain why soldiers tend to be young. After all, you don't want Marines to question their orders when told to "take the hill!". Thankfully, time gives most of the opportunity to reflect in our later years.

Anonymous said...


Great article and photos. You're right, it's generational. Just read a David Brooks column in the NYTimes. He points out that at the end of WW2, that generation was grateful for and humbled by a final victory, whereas today's generation has a "High-Five" mindset. It's all about self-love and getting in your face.

Pat Browning

Mark W. Danielson said...

I totally agree, Pat, but as with wisdom, humility and understanding also grow with age. It will be interesting seeing how things progress over the next few decades.