Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hanging On After Others Have Let Go

“All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

What sets the successful author apart from the aspiring writer?

Perseverance. The determination to move forward no matter how many obstacles appear on the path.

“The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places.” ~Author Unknown

Staying true to our focus means we must recognize that the path to success can be arduous. There are always an abundance of obstacles to overcome before we reach our goal. Time restraints or writer’s block can tempt us to toss aside our dreams. Criticism and rejections can poke holes in our optimism. Instead of floating high from exhilaration, our happy fantasy deflates while we look around desperately for some encouragement.

Let me offer up some reassurance on this end. If you feel frustrated or stymied or overwhelmed, you are not alone. If you yearn for a magical flash of inspiration yet find you must struggle ahead with only a bare glimmer to light your way, you are not alone. All writers experience this struggle.

To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over.... - John Hersey

During the holiday season time is at a premium. For some of us, there’s last-minute shopping to do and presents to be wrapped. Houseguests pop in to share our few precious moments. Children are on winter break and underfoot. In certain areas, severe storms can wreak havoc on our lives, and even worse, knock out the electricity leaving us without internet or PC. Even those who aren't in holiday mode must endure the excessive crowds (which make errands and normal shopping a marathon) and find December's last weeks slipping away. Which begs the question, what exactly can a writer accomplish at this time of year?

My suggestion first off is this. Relax. Enjoy the season. If you can squeeze in a page or two, by all means let those fingers fly! If you can’t… be forgiving to yourself. Trust that you will be pounding those keys when the craziness eases off. Every book is written one page at a time.

“The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence but by oft falling.” ~Lucretius

However this is a great time to consider what qualities to embrace in the New Year. Perseverance is essential for a successful career in writing. To persevere means we persist no matter what. To persevere means to stubbornly push ahead despite the odds. Grit, moxie, or to put it bluntly, you gotta have a set of steel ovaries to make it in this business. *wink*

Harry Potter was rejected by just about every major publisher and if not for a small London publisher would not have seen the light of day. Madeleine L'Engle was rejected by 26 publishers before her novel, A Wrinkle in Time finally made it into print. Imagine... all those publishers rejecting the story that won the 1963 Newbery Medal!

Judy Blume also collected repeated rejections.

"I would go to sleep at night feeling that I'd never be published. But I'd wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent." --Judy Blume

Next week we’ll set the stage for the New Year so let’s consider what we intend to accomplish in 2010.

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. ~William Feather

Let’s “hang on” and remember… We Are Writers!!

Have a lovely holiday season, everyone!

--Chiron O’Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.


Kathy Holmes said...

Great stuff, as always. I read a quote the other day that said, "It's easy to quit during the first 10 years."

The worse part about rejections is the frustration of wanting so badly for certain characters to be seen and heard. Some characters just won't sit on the computer until they've had their day. And that horrible feeling that not enough people - or the right people - will ever get what you're trying to say.

You have to believe, like many before you, that one day it will happen. Thanks, Chiron!

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Chiron said...

Hi Kathy!

Wow, I love that quote.

To be a writer requires a commitment to our characters and it really can feel like we're letting them down if their stories aren't read! That's where we must hold true to that vision, eh? Once you break through the wall, all those stories that wouldn't get picked up before are part of your soon-to-be-published catalog. Woo-hoo!

I do believe you'll find that your dreams manifest, Kathy. You have the commitment, the visibility AND The Voice. You WILL make it happen.

Wishing you a Very Inspired week of writing, my dear!


Miss Mae said...

Boy, that quote from John Hersey is me! I definitely have no blue flame of inspiration right now, just barely pecking out a paragraph or two...and I don't like it! LOL

Thanks, Chiron, as always, just what we need to hear! :)

Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Chiron! Nice to see your motivational blog up. I lvoe the stories about famous people and all those rejections. Sometimes, that's the only thing that keep me going. I've had a good year over all, but mixed in were some disappointments. So be it. Unlike most everyone else. my Christmas time is very quiet and all mine--and my hubby's. We have to do everything early, so that when Christmas week rolls around, he and I are free to stay home and do our own thing. I have a complete agenda laid out for the next several days--inbetween watching Christ mas movies--I'm making a list and checking off each thing I finish. It feels so good!!!

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Chiron said...

Hi Miss Mae!

It's crazy-making, the way the 'blue flame' can be so darn illusive! *grin*

What every author discovers is that writing is a relationship. We fall in love with an idea, enjoy a brief flourish of a honeymoon, then have to settle down to the real job of making the relationship work. :-D "for better or for worse"

Keep plugging away, Miss Mae, that inspiration will peek in again!


Chiron said...

Hi Celia!

Hope your to-do list was checked off exactly as you hoped!

Those stories of rejections are really eye-opening and inspiring. It's so easy to feel alone, trapped on an island of despair, while struggling on the path of writing. Realizing that the island is actually a nation unto itself is reassuring. *smile* We Are Not Alone! Every writer struggles, so we're in good company. :-D

Thanks for stopping by!

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, my dear.