Monday, May 18, 2009

You've Gotta Have Heart

How best to describe a career in writing?

"Going after Moby Dick with nothing but a loaf of bread and a jar of tartar sauce." --contributed by James Fletcher


"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship." –Louisa May Alcott

We are a daring bunch. Venturing out into the chilly depths to seek our prey: The Elusive Contract. We dodge the painful spears of rejection and bait our hook again and again. Even after we manage to snare the wily agent and fearsome editor, our rickety boat must still cut a path through the stormy seas, hoping to discover the ultimate port—Lasting Success As A Published Author.

"If you're going through hell, keep going." ~Winston Churchill

Like many kids, I loved to devour stories. Whether nestled between the covers of a favorite book or played out on the tiny tube of my television set, feed me a story and I'm mesmerized. One classic musical that fascinated me featured a song I still love today. The lyrics capture what every writer needs to remember:

You've gotta have heart…
All you really need is heart…
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win,
That's when the grin should start!

From Damn Yankees, lyrics and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.

Now I'm just mixing metaphors all over the place but with good purpose. Whether you equate your dream with a great white whale or the coveted victory of a championship series, the focus is always the same.

You've Gotta Have Heart.

Yet now as I type these words the realization strikes me that we need to dig deeper. Sure we're "hunting" for the right agent and editor. Yes, we want to "win" a shot at the big league. But each writer who yearns for success has a greater goal. One we may forget in our eager quest for the trophy win.

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. --Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

While we may struggle and sweat, going after our goals with fervor and heart-pounding determination, we lose sight of the greatest quest of all.

To Be A Damn Good Storyteller.

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer. - Ernest Hemingway

To write a story that makes even one reader's heart sing is an amazing accomplishment. Sure the savvy agent hoping for a best-selling author right off the bat may not give your query a second glance. The editor pressured to only select books guaranteed to net a larger profit share may pass on the sale. Does that make you a… *gasp* failure?

Let me tell you right now… HELL No. If you pound those keys and nurture your story until it bursts into illumination, You Are A Success. If your beta readers and critique partners tell you how much they LOVE your story, YOU Are A Success. Truth is, this is a tough economy. There's a plethora of books flooding the marketplace. Breaking in is not necessarily easy. We all need to be determined to be in this for the long haul. Others may get contracts quicker or land an agent while we're still sweating over revisions. Be envious but joyful. Every success that others achieve is great news, my friend. This proves your dreams are achievable. You Can And Will Be A Successful and Published Author.

You Gotta Have Heart… Miles and Miles and Miles of Heart. *wink*

"Keep your dreams alive. Understand that to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hardwork, determination, and dedication. Remember, all things are possible for those who believe." -- Gail Devers

Here's to a Week Filled With Heart…

Now you tell me, any classic movies or stories that filled you with heart? Tales that gave you hope or renewed your faith and courage?

Chiron O'Keefe
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas!


Tiffany James said...


I always just open up my "quotes" document whenever I read your posts because, inevitably, there are two or three I love and want to keep close by. :0) Today was no exception!

The movie with heart I love may not be a classic in the traditional sense of the word, but I still watch it over and over. RETURN TO ME is about a woman who receives a heart transplant then falls in love with the husband of the woman whose heart she received! There's some conflict for you. :0) It's such a feel good, life affirming love story (even in the midst of tragedy). I want my readers to get those feelings when they read my books...whether they read it in pubbed form or in a print-out from my computer.

Thanks for the kick in the pants - I've been dragging my feet to get some requested submission in - not anymore. I'm going after Moby Dick with a box of Cheez-Its!


J Hali said...

Particularly fond of the movie, All Mine To Give, about a little boy who has to give away his younger siblings on Christmas day. Talk about heart! And I sweat on submitting a ms... Another great post, Chiron. Can always count on you for some soul searching and a 'gentle' push in the right direction.

Miss Mae said...

I admire you, Chiron. I just don't see how you continue to create such eloquent posts.

I always come away feeling good. :)

Sandy said...

Wonderful post, Chiron.

My favorite classic movie is and will always be Gone With the Wind. It may not have ended the way I wanted it to, but Scarlett had so much hope.

Misty Evans said...

I was so happy to see the notice about your blog post in my email today, Chiron! Your posts are like a decadent treat.

One of my favorite heart filled movies is Dick and Jane with Jim Carey and Tia Lione (sp?). I laugh myself silly every time I watch it.

This weekend, hubby and I watched another Jim Carey movie, Yes Man. It too was hilarious and reminded me I need to say yes more often when the universe sends me an opportunity.

As far as books, I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love right now. A wonderful tribute to finding and enjoying happiness.

Chiron said...

Hi Tiffany!!

So glad you like the quotes. They're so much fun to find. *smile* Your movie pick sounds very uplifting. Those are the ones we return to for a boost, eh?

That's my goal too. To leave my readers a little better off for having read my books. Or essays! *grin*

Thanks so very much for visiting!


Chiron said...

Wow, J, the movie choice you share sounds like it's one for the heart. Stories with an impact help transform our perspective, giving us the lessons we need to move forward in life. You picked a great one!

Thanks for your kind comments, my dear!


Chiron said...

Aw, Miss Mae, thanks so much! *blush* You are such a dear...


Chiron said...


Sometimes those movies that don't end the way we would choose can really inspire us to write! We then make our own HEA. *smile*

Thanks so much for stopping by!


Chiron said...

Hello Misty!

Why, thank-you, my dear! *blush* And your current book, "I'd Rather Be In Paris," is quite the hot-fudge sundae for me! *grin*

I loved Fun W/ Dick & Jane (both original and remake)!! And Yes Man is on my list. My two favorite Jim Carrey movies are "Liar Liar" (hilarious and such a great message!), and of course, "Bruce Almighty," which is so funny and again, another great message. (And as an afterthought, How GREAT was The Truman Show???)

The book sounds wonderful! I'll have to check that out.

Thanks so much for dropping by!