Sure, the Albino with the needs-to-cough-up-a-hairball voice is a bit of comedic relief before discovering our hero Westley is in the Pit of Despair. His future? Torture — attached to a life-sucking machine. His only escape? Death.
Am I the only one who skips these scenes?
As writers, there are days we are trapped in our personal Pit of Despair, without even a somewhat friendly Albino nearby. Life — our passion — is being sucked out of us, bit by bit.
What does Westley’s trip to the Pit teach us? Consider two truths:
- Truth # 1: Enemies get you into the Pit.
- Truth # 2: Friends get you out of the Pit.
What about those enemies?
Inconceivable, isn’t it, how both success and failure dump us in the Pit.
When you succeed as a writer — land an agent, sign a contract — you think: Other people have expectations for me. What if I fail? Overloading yourself with the real or imaginary expectations of others tumble you into the Pit faster than the Dread Pirate Roberts can scale the Cliffs of Insanity.
And then there’s the slippery slope of failure: never attaining your goals, never quite grasping whatever spells “victory” for you. The root problem is the same: expectations. Fear you won’t meet others’ expectations or disappointment in yourself for not fulfilling your own. The bigger question? How do you navigate both success and failure?
At last! It’s time for the friends.
Westley didn’t rescue himself. The heroes? Fezzik and Inigo, who found a “mostly dead” Westley in the Pit. But that didn’t stop his friends from hauling his body out to go looking for a miracle.
When you can’t see the faintest hope of a miracle for the forest of despair surrounding your writing dreams, who searches for you? When you no longer believe in yourself, in your story, who believes in it for you? And — perhaps even more importantly — who do you go looking for when they’ve been dragged off into the Pit of Despair?
We’ve peered over the Cliffs of Insanity, survived the Fire Swamp, and now find ourselves at the Pit of Despair. Which have you found to be the greater enemy: success or failure? How have friends rescued you? Like Miracle Max, I believe it takes a miracle sometimes for changes to happen … so if you have any of those to share, please do!
Post Author: Beth K. Vogt
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.