Thanksgiving: Giving and Receiving Thanks

December 5, 2016

The day after Thanksgiving, I called the printing shop to revise the quantity for the first batch order of my book. I initially placed an order before Thanksgiving to get ahead of the holiday delay, estimating 50 books would be a good starting point, since I’m only marketing the book among my close friends in the beginning. But as order kept rolling in, I started to panic – the number went from 50 to 90 to 150 in only a few days, and I know, I will have to end up selling out.

 

I appreciate the faith and unyielding support my community has in me! When I was climbing, it was your faith and support that kept me going during the hardest time; and this book is no different, this book is a community project too.

 

Several friends read my first draft, giving thorough feedback as they went. And while I don’t want to repeat the ‘Acknowledgment’ part of the book here – and bore you with the long list of names – I do want you to know, I have incorporated your feedback as much as I could.

 

The book title, “After The Summit”, is a direct result of this community effort. Thank you to all my friends for contributing ideas when I found my creativity too limited to find a title. I assure you that all your votes were counted in an honest and fair manner ☺; “After The Summit” is the non-disputable winner!

 

More than just voting for the title, many of your suggestions sparked new perspectives on how I can better connect my message to the people I hope to reach. While you read my book, you’ll discover what I learned from climbing and how those lessons can be applied to your everyday life. I know some of you are curious how I overcame the challenge of writing an English book as an ESL (English as Second Language) speaker; and, in fact, some of the lessons I learned during this writing process may offer you a different perspective on the challenge you are trying to tackle now.

 

As I mentioned in “Why I Wrote After the Summit”, it took me three years before I finally went from “I know, I will …” to “I’m writing it!” One of the main reasons mentioned before was the motivation. The other reason – a quite legitimate one – was that I really was not sure if I was ready and didn’t know how to get started.

 

Writing my first English book was a scary endeavor, for me, it was much more frightening than mountain climbing. The subject is foreign, because I wanted to write not just stories, but the deeper analysis and application of the lessons; it takes a lot of research and study to write each chapter. The style is foreign: it’s not a memoir, but a typical non-fiction; trying to formulate my ideas in a logical flow takes several rounds of trials and revisions. And of course, language itself is a challenge too.

 

If there’s one thing I learned from climbing that really helped here, it’s to reach out for help when necessary. Receiving coaching and mentoring help does not take away your independence or your originality. Even the world’s best athletes have coaches. Why shouldn’t we? There’s a lot of merit in self teaching, but coaching and mentoring help can make a huge difference when the stakes are high; such as learning proper safety techniques in climbing means life and death, or in competitive games where small edge means the difference between winning or losing. For a beginner embarking on a new challenge, having professional guidance can help speed up the learning curve dramatically and prevent you from costly mistakes.

 

After multiple wishful starts or false starts, I realized I needed help! I had known Claudia Gere, a writing coach, from NSA (National Speaker Association) for a while. Last October (2015), after Darren LaCroix pulled the last straw by “imploring” me to write the book (read more about this in “Why I Wrote After the Summit”),I finally decided to ask Claudia for help.

 

I started writing a couple weeks before last Thanksgiving, The first couple months, I was on a roller coaster, often anxious, impatient, and frustrated. Several times, I feared I would derail or stall as I entangled myself in the cobweb of my own nonlinear thoughts. Claudia patiently combed through my unorganized notes and showed me a structure that I could follow.

 

Though we often say writing is a huge endeavor, actually, writing is only a small part of the whole process of making a book. If writing is digging out a diamond stone, then editing is the polishing process. Without the months of editing Claudia put in, after I thought “I’m done,” you would only see a pile of draft papers stacked on a cluttered desk instead of this neatly packed book of eight chapters.

 

Thanksgiving is the time to appreciate all those who have helped us, appreciate the life we are able to enjoy. When we try to help others, we all want to be the giver, but it’s important to learn to be a receiver too. We face a lot of challenges in our life, but we don’t have to face it alone. Reaching out for help is not a weakness. By reaching out, you let other people into your life; in return, you will be in a better position to help others.