Monday, March 3, 2008

Perseverance

“A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.” --Anonymous

Perseverance. An essential quality for a writer. Yet soooo boring. Yikes. I mean… really. Even saying the word takes forever! Come on… Four syllables? Give me a break. A decent writer could have said the same thing with three syllables, maybe even two. Right?

During last year's PRO boot camp at the RWA conference, we listened to Ellen Edwards share details of the long road from book acceptance to book publication. Endless steps on a seemingly endless journey. Her talk followed Colleen Gleason's tight presentation of the many steps a writer can take on the path to self-promotion. For all of us with stars in our eyes, imagining that the most work we’ll have to do (and the most waiting we’ll have to endure) is simply the process of completing our WIP, this came as a shock. Someone flipped on the lights and the stars became an endless series of pinpricks in a very, very high ceiling. Would we reach that ceiling? Did we want to?

"Nothing in life just happens. You have to have the stamina to meet the obstacles and overcome them." ~ Golda Meir

It’s true. Nothing in life just happens. The novel we yearn to pen doesn’t just happen. Neither does submitting it or promoting it. Thrilling this process may be but there’s a heck of a lot of work involved and the essential quality that most comes to mind when tackling that goal is perseverance. You have to knuckle down. Make it happen. Believe, pursue, push, and persevere.

"My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging." -- Hank Aaron

Wow. He could have been describing the life of a writer! The only thing to do is keep swinging. You want to hit the ball out of the park? There’s only one way to make it happen. Keep swinging.

"All right Mister, let me tell you what winning means... you're willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else." --Vincent Lombardi

Um… what he said. *grin* There’s something to be said for sheer grit. Pluck. Resolve. Stamina. I can almost hear the sneer of the imaginary boss as he gazes at our heroine with contempt.

“You think you GOT what it takes? Prove it. Write the damn novel. Write the stinking synopsis AND the query. You want it. You better be prepared to go out there and take it. Ain’t NOBODY gonna just sneak in here and give it to you.”

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” -- Julie Andrews

Sometimes the hardest truths are best taken with a spoonful of sugar but let’s get real… there’s nothing sweet about rejection. Yet it happens to all of us. There’s no such thing as universal acceptance. There will always be someone that doesn’t like us or what we do. You think Nora Roberts has it all? Well, I bet she still deals with literary snobs that look down their nose because she writes… Romance… *gasp*

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't.” -- Henry Ward Beecher

What do we want to embrace? Our strong will or our strong won’t? Any fool can come up with a dozen reasons why something won’t work. The successful one is the author who points out exactly how it CAN and WILL work. Let’s make sure we spend more time each day reminding ourselves of what we CAN do.

"Destiny is not a matter of chance but of choice. Not something to wish for but to attain." -- William Jennings Bryan

This is a big one. We can wish all we want but if being a published and successful writer is a goal we must Make the Choice to Attain That Goal. We can’t just be hanging out a mall, dangling our manuscript and waiting for someone to magically realize that clutched in our trembling hands is the next million-dollar bestseller. *chuckle* We have to focus, write, plan, promote, believe, query, plot, and persevere.

"Studies indicate that the one quality all successful people have is persistence." -- Joyce Brothers

There you have it. We make the choice. We decide. Do we want to be Successful, Published Writers with a Looooong Career? If so, no matter what stage of the process we’re at we must persist. We must persevere.

Plot the novel. Write the pages. Edit the draft. Revise the damn edits. Piece together the synopsis. Sweat out the query. Start all over again. Even Sherryl Woods has to produce a synopsis for her upcoming novels. After a hundred books! And she will. Because, let me tell you, THAT author knows the meaning of perseverance.

"One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life." -- Edward B. Butler

Therein lies the secret. Hold onto the flame within our hearts. Fan it with whispers of hope. Nurture the fire with chunks of solid effort. Let the possibility of Being All We Hope For keep us warm and our outlook bright. We can do it. Now and for every year beyond. Why?

Because we are WRITERS, that’s why!!

We’re starting another lovely week. The beginning of March. Spring is struggling to emerge. Birds are chirping a happy song and flowers are just beginning to blossom. If the urge to play (or plant) comes upon you, don’t worry. It’s all part of the process. Let yourself refresh and rejuvenate, have some fun when you can. Then Get Back To Work. Even a page a day. If you’re struggling, do some free-write about your character or plot. Whether you’re editing, querying, writing fresh pages, plotting, submitting, or critiquing, You Are A Writer.

Believe it. Make it so...

2 comments:

Rita St. Claire said...

Great blog this week, Chiron! Perfect timing for me, who has been on a week's vacation skiing, and working on my novel during my "non skiing" time. For the umpteenth time, I've read through it, and have about thirty or so pages to go until finish. Once all my edits are entered (and they're significant), I'll submit in earnest.


And, phew! Talk about work and persistence--I've been working on this dang thing for 3 1/2 years. But I've gotta get it right--no one will buy it if it isn't good.

Work, work, work. Persist, persist, persist!

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Hey there, Rita,

Thanks for stopping by!

Sounds like you have fully embraced the quality of Perseverance... Good For YOU!

*high-five*

Thirty pages is sooooo close. Write On, woman! You keep plugging away and make sure you let me know when you get The Call. *smile*

Smiles to you,
Chiron