"Two ways," Mike said. "Gradually and then suddenly."
I have been mulling over this little gem from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises for the better part of two days now. Humorous and ironic, the profundity of Mike's sullen description of how he lost his money lies in the realization that gradually, then suddenly is not just a clever quip, but a recognizable pattern of life that can be extended to any aspect of human existence.
Take your health, for example. Imagine you are out-of-shape and begin an intense exercise regimen in an effort to get fit. During the first week all you feel is pain, but slowly and gradually your fitness level improves until one fine morning - ta-dah! You are suddenly in shape!
Writing follows a similar pattern, in my opinion. You type and type and type and revise and rethink and rip up and throw out and rewrite and then one day you suddenly realize you are finished.
The idea can also be applied to success. Though instant success happens, it is rare and dangerous. The more common path to success also follows the gradually then suddenly pattern.
Of course, gradually then suddenly is not always positive, as Mike so gloomily reveals when describing his state of financial misfortune. Going back to the example of health. If you are in shape and stop exercising and taking care of yourself, you gradually, then very suddenly realize you are no longer fit. In writing, if you no longer imagine, write, and create, you gradually, then very suddenly stop being a writer.
In terms of success, I have noticed that my novel is gradually catching the attention of more readers. More ratings and reviews are popping up on Goodreads and Amazon. Whether or not this gradual increase in interest and awareness will translate into anything in the suddenly portion of the equation described above remains to be seen.
Regardless, it is nice to see a few more people take notice of the novel.