"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." –Thomas Edison (who reportedly had 10,000 failures before successfully creating the light bulb).
Quite awhile back, I'd been chatting with some 'writerly' friends, dishing about our mutual struggles and commiserating over the need for patience. There comes a time when the wicked truth descends upon every writer.
Writing isn't a hundred yard dash. Writing is a marathon. You have to stick to it. Page after page, scene after scene, chapter after chapter. Then comes the rewrites. But honestly, that's not even the beginning.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of writers (okay, I'll admit I was one) sincerely believe writing their book, THE First Book, is the finish line. Once written, the accolades will tumble in. Contest wins! The queries will net 100% response! Agents will BEG to read the full! Publishing houses will start a bidding war! Ten days later, Bestseller List!!
Now, this does happen to the occasional writer. But even J.K. Rowling was rejected from just about every publishing house in the galaxy before getting picked up.
One of the commonest mistakes and one of the costliest is thinking that success is due to some genius, some magic - something or other which we do not possess. Success is generally due to holding on, and failure to letting go. You decide to learn a language, study music, take a course of reading, train yourself physically. Will it be success or failure? It depends upon how much pluck and perseverance that word "decide" contains. The decision that nothing can overrule, the grip that nothing can detach will bring success. Remember the Chinese proverb, "With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes satin." --Maltbie Davenport Babcock
On one writing loop, a troubled writer wrote about how she received her first rejection and quite legitimately wondered if she should continue pushing forward or just give up on writing and stick with her established career.
One author responded with blunt-force trauma saying, in essence, if you have to ask then, yes, quit! *gasp!*
Why would she say such a thing?
Because the truth is, unless you have relentless determination, undying passion, and the absolute unrealistic stubbornness to WRITE-SUBMIT-WRITE until the day a book of yours is published, in all honesty you probably should flee while you still have your sanity intact.
You're either in or you're out. Consider how many times sitcoms milked the pregnancy factor by showing a woman in labor screaming, "I've changed my mind!"
As Homer Simpson might quip, "It's funny 'cause it's true."
The painful labor required to write and perfect each book is enough to make a sane person rip out her hair in frustration. Then we must also wrestle with the synopsis, the blurb, the endless queries, all in hopes that This Book Will Be The One.
A noted author (and one of my heroes) responded with her own very personal story, which she graciously allowed me to repost for everyone here:
I wrote FIVE manuscripts before I sold, queried over 100 agents, had over 100 rejections, and never considered giving up. I often ask people when I speak, "IF you knew today that you would not sell, would you still write?" If the answer is yes, first, you're more likely to sell and second, you have the desire to write for the long haul, and perseverance is part of the publishing triangle (perseverance, talent, and luck.) Stephen King, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, and many other bestselling authors were rejected countless times. Most authors have been rejected. It's part of the business.
I had one agent request the full of my first manuscript and wrote back a one word response: SUPERFICIAL. Ouch. Yet, she was probably right. She could have been kinder. She could have said, "Your writing isn't strong enough for my list." But she didn't. I could have quit, but luckily I didn't because now I have 8 books on the shelves, a novella, and a short story, have one book in production, and I'm contracted for six more books and two short stories.
Every book I've written is better than the last. If you want to be a writer, you have to keep writing.
Allison Brennan Original Sin (Seven Deadly Sins) Available Now!
Coming 6/22/10 Carnal Sin
Write ON, Allison!
"If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody." –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Here's the thing. Published writers don't have a special key to unlock the doorway to success. They simply knocked longer and harder until someone opened the gosh-darn door and let them in.
Another thing to consider… The journey is damn important. I know the thought of being published is the dangling carrot that keeps our mulish self plodding forward, one page at a time. But I believe writing is more than a means to an end. I believe writing is an act of self-discovery. Each page you write is a testament to your strength, your courage and your perseverance.
"Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance." –Samuel Johnson
While much credence is given to those who can do everything from Dance With The Stars to Surviving on Creepy, Crawly Bugs in this Reality-Show driven decade, few of those characters could ever accomplish what we do. We Write Books. This is our mountain. Every time we complete another novel, we are planting a flag. Visualize those flags fluttering in the breeze and feel a tingle of pride because We Are Writers. Damn, but we're lucky.
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." ~Sir Edmund Hillary
And believe me I know, the trek grows perilous. The rocky mountain path is a chore to climb and too often we pause wondering which way to turn.
"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." –Franklin D. Roosevelt
Try this for a mantra:
Success comes to those who persevere. I Am A Success Because I Persevere.
Finish the page, the scene, or the chapter (remember it's only a first draft). Edit your WIP until it shines. Submit until The Right Person opens the door. And remember, We Are Writers. And what do writers do? We Write!
Here's to a productive and inspired week... Go-go-GO!
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