Beyond the Wild Lands

Field Report – It has been months now and I have finally journeyed beyond the known borders of the wild lands. There is an unsettling ambience to the landscape here. Something is not right and yet I cannot quite place the problem.

In some ways it is an unmistakable sense of foreboding. I am a foreigner here. An unwelcome traveller intruding upon lands that have their own passive customs. In other ways, it is the plain hostility of the parched ground and wind-swept mountains. It is an environment to avoid, and from my observations, other travellers have indeed heeded this unspoken rule.

Perhaps however, the most obvious feeling that a problem exists, lies in the symbolism of these lands – they are the end point of fertile marketing. I have travelled further than at any other time, as I seek to make known my newest manuscript. I have received more enthusiasm from reviewers and have seen the book take pride of place in schools, libraries and in homes. Yet for the breadth of land I have covered, I have now come to the limits of this particular adventure.

And so here I stand. Desperately tired – with little to show. Where the book has been received, it has been received well. However the sheer number of readers required to make this venture sustainable is now glaring. I had hoped that the merits of the book itself would be enough to extend its reach, but this has not been the case.

So it is with a heavy heart, I must return to the base camp. I should rest and then refine my strategies. I already suspect that this will mean focusing with far more intention on my platform. It is an activity I had hoped to delay, yet it now appears to be unavoidable.

Looking about, I think I now understand what is so wrong about this place. It is not so much its foreboding nature, hostility or even symbolism. It is the threat it poses to every author that happens to make it this far into unknown territory. It is the absence of treasure for a pirate that has spent a year at sea. It is the skilful soldier felled by a stray arrow. It is the hero of a story unable to resolve his crisis. It is doubt. Yes, that is it – doubt. As far as the eye can see, all that can be observed is a vivid landscape of uncertainty.

It is the awareness, that when all that may be done is done, it yet may not be good enough. Although, as best as I can recall, I have never read a story where a pirate, a soldier or a hero has bowed to the pressure of their doubts. Indeed, the best tales precede all successes with some kind of reservation. And although hope is sometimes seen as nothing more than the positive side of doubt, for many reasons I will hold this side closer. It does appear stronger, more resilient and far more helpful. Besides, it certainly makes for a better story.

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