It seems that whether you’re an aspiring writer, or one who’s well established, there is always self-doubt. Times when you feel that no one will love your story as much as you and your beta readers do. Sometimes there’s good reason, you’re being arrogant and stubborn and refuse to listen to professional criticism. Or you’re just going with your gut and refuse to waver, not arrogant, but maybe blind to the faults in your manuscript. We’ve all been there, in all those crappy places.
But persistence is one of the most important weapons in the writer’s armory. I keep telling myself that rejection builds character, pain makes us stronger. You know, no pain no gain? Well I’ve lived by that mantra at the gym all these years, now I just have to transfer that to my writing life. And I don’t think it stops after you’ve had your first success. Look at writers like J K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. It’s almost like they have no chance of publishing another successful manuscript. No matter how good their new books might be they can never reach the popularity of what they’ve already published. Both of their series have reached exponential and legendary status and it is nearly impossible to live up to a legend, even your own, because it has taken on mythical standing.
So in order to develop this habit of persistence I’ve started something new. I’ve anointed Wednesday (Hump Day) as Submission Day, to keep me over the hump of getting a query started. I’ve committed to sending out one submission a week. It’s reduced my anxiety over hours of exhausting work and whittled it down to a simple task that keeps the rhythm going, especially because in most instances your submission will languish for months before you receive a reply, if you receive one at all. Maybe it ‘s just like throwing things at a wall, if you keep it up eventually the odds are that something will stick.
Here are some links for finding agents and small presses to keep those doors open and those submissions flowing. All are easily accessed online.
And here is inspiration for being persistent:
- “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Calvin Coolidge
- “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” Bill Bradley
- And lastly, I’m a huge fan of Chuck Wendig. I love his blog. He’s irreverent and blunt, and curses a lot. He makes me laugh and throw things. But everything he says rings true for me. Here’s his advice:
IT TAKES THE TIME IT TAKES
Writing. Finishing. Editing. Publishing. Selling.
We want everything fast but sometimes it’s slow because it needs to be slow.
I write fast. I can churn out a book that doesn’t suck in a month or two. I also write a lot. In just over two years I’ve published ten books — one of which was self-published. Some of these books seem well-regarded, though I can’t speak to their actual quality, only to their quantity. I had a short film show at Sundance. I had a script go through the Sundance Labs. Worked on games and transmedia stuff and now comics and somewhere north of 115,000 tweets. I’ll probably write diner menus and the product description on the back of a bag of donkey chow next.
It’s a strong quantity of words. Quality, I dunno. But definitely quantity.
And to that quantity I have been referred to at times as an overnight success, which is true as long as you define “overnight” as “a pube’s width shy of 20 years.”
Because that’s how long I’ve been writing.
The other day I watched The State of Play on HBO: Examining the Science of Happiness. It reminded me that it’s not usually achieving the goal that makes you happy, or satisfied, it’s the journey. And that happiness is something you have to work at, you’re not at the mercy of your genes or your environment. In most cases optimism over pessimism is a choice. So I’m choosing to think positively and appreciate the wild ride I’m on. And I’m starting to see the results of my persistence. This round of submissions has produced more interest from agents and editors than I’ve had in quite some time. I’m hopeful, and don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know if I publish. So remember, don’t quit and enjoy the ride!