Perseverance is at the heart of nearly every success story I encounter. Those who keep going, despite setbacks and frustration, are left to squeeze every last wonder out of their lives. Among those setbacks are moments of joy, rays of sun, to be cherished for the moments we can appreciate them. Past difficulties, one day in the future, can become stories of triumph to inspire or even make us chuckle.
There are many frustrations and disappointments along the path of writing professionally. Dedicating hours of time to create a story or novel most often meets with rejection without any constructive criticism. That risk of rejection kept me from submitting stories to publishers for decades of writing, and it never gets easier. In fact, I write this blog entry just after reading a rejection email for a story that took me over a week of writing and editing.
Giving up is probably the easiest decision to make when faced with a challenge, especially one where a solution is completely unclear. I’ve faced it many times as a writer and taken that road once, only to come back to my senses years later with regret. Only after carefully weighing the possibility of failure against the what-ifs of success did I determine this: the only way to guarantee failure was to give up. It’s not the realization of a genius. I should have stumbled upon it much earlier.
There are probably millions of people out there who dream about getting paid to write fiction. Some start and never finish. (Just look at my pile of unfinished novels. Guilty!) A lot more probably finish writing a story but never submit it. That’s a big step. It’s not like showing it to a few friends you know will probably like it. Somebody is making a decision whether or not it will help them sell a publication or generate advertising revenue, and they will not necessarily be nice when they reject you. For a lot of people, and for me up until a couple of years ago, the risk wasn’t worth the reward for $.01/word (and a free digital copy). And that’s the exact reason you can succeed.
In the picture at the top, there are a mess of flowers, most dead. Certainly these black-eyed susans didn’t get rejected by publishers, but at one point they were part of a much larger bed of flowers. Periods of drought, followed by Hurricane Matthew, likely accounted for many of the deaths, but some persisted despite thirst, severe winds, and probably neglect. Now the determined survive and don’t compete with nearly as many others for sun, water, and nutrients.
Every time a writer gives up and I submit another story, my chances of success are better. Each aspiring novelist who crumbles under criticism and naysayers will have to live with their regrets while I’m cashing my royalty checks. Their novel will never find a publisher who believes in their vision. Mine will get rejected by 20, but that 21st will give me some of the best news I’ve ever had. It’s a long game for most. I only wish I had started it younger.
The best part is that people will always want to read, and they can read a book in a fraction of the time it took to write it. There’s always room for more excellent books on shelves, no matter how many people decide to persevere. There are plenty of readers for all of our works if we have the determination to keep banging away on our keyboards. Don’t give up, flowers. Hold up your faces to the sun.