The Goal of the (Writer's) Journey

In the German language there is a saying, “Der Weg ist das Ziel.” It means that the importance lies not in the goal of the journey but in the journey itself. For the longest time, I agreed with this. And I still do. But when The Three Feathers came along, Joshua, my little rooster friend and hero of the story, came up with an extension to that line. After the adventure with his friends to find the three feathers, he came to the following conclusion: “The goal of the journey is neither the journey itself nor its end. It is but the companions we collect on the way.”

This had a very profound impact on me – and still has to this day. In fact, I keep thinking about it and realize more and more that that is what this whole thing is about. With “this whole thing” I mean the complete experience of writing. The writing itself, the trials and tribulations, the doubts, the little triumphs, and all the rest. None of it is important. It is, but let’s just say, for now, that it is secondary. Becoming a best seller, getting 500 five-star reviews, and being able to make a living as a writer, all those things are goals as I have defined them. All those things are nice, don’t get me wrong and I strive for each one of them. However, they won’t make me happy. They won’t fill me with contentment. No amount of five-star reviews will ever be enough. I realize that each time I get one. No amount of money will ever be enough. Becoming a best seller will not be enough.

Reaching the goal of the writer’s journey, whatever that is for each of us, will not give us what we want. The journey itself, the learning processes, the growth – personal and as a writer – the challenges, the great plot twists we come up with, all of that has it’s moments. But happiness? I doubt it. I think you know what I’m getting at, so here it is: For me, it is the friendships with my fellow writers and readers that makes all this worthwhile. I know why Hugh Howey is such a happy fellow. Not because he has reached his goal of becoming a successful author. Far from it (okay, I’m guessing here but please jump in if you disagree). He is happy because of all the companions he has collected on the way. Without them, the journey would be utterly meaningless.

I have made many friends since I started to follow this crazy dream of becoming a writer. Most of you I’ve never met in person. And yet, there is a bond that grows. It is not a mere support group. It is a row of light houses spanning the dark sea, from my little sailboat that carries a dream, all the way to my destination. Without those beacons, I would most likely be lost. Each one illuminates the way to the next until the end is reached. And once the end is reached, it becomes meaningless. It’s just another thing soon to be forgotten. But the ones that were with us on the journey, we remember. We always will.

 

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