Friday, April 13, 2007

Persistence

Some writer friends recently blogged about the importance of persistence in a writer's life, and I felt the need to reflect a bit further. Persistence comes to us, or teases us, from more than one corner.

First...in our writing. Many friends have discovered spring fever lately and are having a hard time focusing on their writing. I have many things intruding upon my concentration these days, one of which was the subject of my last entry. As new life blooms outside, daily life inside begins to buzz at a fever pitch as well. Sports practices intensify, chores need more urgent attention, children need more urgent attention,... all very reasonable and tempting distractions from our writing. But if you're lucky, that story is still calling to you, twisting your stomach in knots of guilt everytime you pick up the dust rag instead of the keyboard. For some, the sight of their manuscript brings waves of dread and confusion. "I just don't know where to go next. I hate my MS!" But persistence gnaws at your conscience and drags your fingers into action once again, no matter how hard you try to leave it behind.

Second...in our submissions. Everyone has heard, "I have enough rejection letters to wallpaper my house three times over!" We laugh and take heart for half a second and then send out two more queries, fully expecting two more rejection in return, but daring to let that flicker of hope keep burning. Some of us give up. My first article accepted for publication grew from a 4-year process...thankfully! I revised that story so many times, each time responding to criticism that accompanied yet another rejection. But it was constructive criticism and I constructed! I couldn't let it drop. I simply wasn't done yet. I knew there was a good story in there somewhere, and several editors were drawing clues all over my treasure map. Then I struck gold. Persistence!

And it continues. If I had given up 4 years ago, I wouldn't have 2 novels completed and in revision, one with a request from an editor. I wouldn't have earned 2 scholarships to wonderful workshops that changed my life. I wouldn't have an article accepted by a major children's magazine. And most important, I wouldn't be the writer I am now--exponentially better than the one I was 4 years ago.

Persistence is more than a path to publication. It's a journey to brilliance. To discovery. To satisfaction. To wisdom.

The next time you hear a presenter at a SCBWI conference tell you it's all about persistence, you can roll your eyes and heave a sigh...but don't forget to believe it, too.

10 comments:

  1. Oh boy, I hear ya. I would have given up years ago if it weren't for that darn persistence. It has saved me on more occasions than I can count (even when I don't want it to.)

    I'm not even at the submission stage yet. When I get there (this year), I know I'll need my little "P" friend when I get there.

    A great reminder for all of us. Thanks, Mary Ann.

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  2. And this is why you'll someday have a book published. Keep moving forward.

    Amy

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  3. You've said it so well here--and as you know from reading my blog, I've got the rejecetion letters (never thought of wallpapering with them, though), and the years under my belt . . . and finally got published. Hang in there--you probably feel like I did--that there wasn't even a choice involved.

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  4. Thanks, gals! I think you're right, Judy--in some ways, there really isn't a choice. I know if I finally said, "I Quit!" I would still be writing in my head, no matter what. That just simply does not have an "off" switch.

    And thanks, Amy. I think I've finally convinced my self that it is just a matter of time.

    And Linda, that little "P" friend is already sitting in your pocket. Just give her a shout when you need her.

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  5. So true- great post. Thanks!

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  6. I saw your comment on Dawnelle's blog about Aunt Ruby, and had to visit the funny blogger. (Hope you don't mind the intrusion.)

    I can totally understand the persistence thing. I was a writer/editor for 16 years for various publications (the last one a local newspaper) until last July when I became a stay-at-home mom/occasional freelance writer. Although I've never written a novel, I have done "investigative" stories that require persistence, even when sources are refusing to talk. It can be frustrating at the time, but the reward (seeing it in print) is always good.

    Thanks for letting me visit you.

    Aisha

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  7. I hope you don't mind me stopping by, I've seen your comments on Dawnelle's blog. I had to leave a comment here, because what are the chances that I'd meet a blogger that lives just 15 min from me. :)

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  8. Welcome Aisha and Momma Roar! So glad you stopped by!

    Momma Roar--15 minutes away! We'll have to meet at Weaver's for some tea sometime!

    Aisha, that's what I'm counting on...seeing it in print. I have a friend who also freelances and works for 3 different papers. It can be overwhelming trying to get the facts and get people to talk to you. I admire you guys for tackling that job. So does "last July" mean your baby is just coming up on a year old, or is that just when you decided to stay home?

    I continued to teach the first 3 years after my son was born, but then finally got to stay home after that. I do some freelance editing and teach a course or two at a small college now that both my kids are in school. Although if you read my last post, you'll see that may be changing again.

    Thanks for stopping in, ladies!

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  9. Hi again,

    To answer your question, I continued to work for 3 1/2 years after my son was born. I was getting tired of not having enough time with him because of night meetings I would have to cover (I worked for a small paper, as in two full-time reporters).

    I still write for the paper once in a while (mostly features now), and do so only when my schedule allows. Since quitting, I've been able to take up singing again. I now sing with two choirs also get hired sometimes to sing at funerals and weddings.

    I'd like to take on more freelance projects (I have some prospects here in S.D.), but my focus is mainly my son -- for now.

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  10. That's awesome, Aisha! I'm so glad I finally got to stay home, and it was especially crucial for my daughter. She had a significant hearing lose and speech delay--long story. But all is well now, and I am glad to be getting a little "professional" time for myself and still be home for the kids when they are home.

    That's so wonderful that you sing--a talent I've always longed to have. For the greater good, only my children ever hear me sing!

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