Persistence. As I continue on this journey of creativity and inspiration, I discover increasingly that success in life is more about persistence, and less about so-called luck.
In 2007, I won my first contest with the first chapter of what eventually became my novel, “Sense of Adventure.” For me, the most exciting part of the prize was that a Harlequin editor would read it, because I was absolutely sure that she would immediately snap up my book and publish it. I was already a Best! Selling! Author! in my head. It was a shock to me when the Harlequin editor informed me that the first chapter (which had won the contest) was boring, and they had no interest in publishing it. I decided that the editor was, naturally, wrong, and I sent off another book to them, only to have them turn it around only as fast as they could slide it from one envelope and into the SASE, stating it wasn’t suitable for them, but best of luck!
The double rejection stopped me. I wrote for a bit longer after that, but when the writing of my paranormal romance ground to a halt, I let it lie there, and my writing slowed down. At the time, no one had heard of CreateSpace or indie publishing, and I wouldn’t have known how to go about becoming a self-published author. I was threw up my hands and gave up my dream of publishing until about a year ago, when I pulled myself up by my figurative bootstraps, dusted off my old works, and got back into writing.
My boss observed, “You gave up so easily. Why?”
It was a good question, and it was one without a good answer.
Today, I know that no novelist springs fully grown from the head of Zeus. We toil and struggle with our contemporaries, our paranormals, and our fantasy work, wrestling each book or ebook into submission until it’s ready for human eyes (well, as ready as it’s ever going to be).
Today, I don’t give up. I get discouraged, sure. “Fire Danger,” the novel that is currently in the finals in a contest, had been bounced from a different contest a week or so earlier. A reviewer told me she was unable to finish “Beginning Time.” Reviewers by the dozens have simply never replied to my solicitations, or they replied and never reviewed the book they’d received.
Rejections are the norm. It’s the nature of the business, but that doesn’t make them any easier.
When the news came about the first contest, I got a sinking feeling and wondered if I was any good. For the next week or so, I dragged through my writing, wondering why I was bothering, pondering whether I truly had any talent. Then came the news about the second contest. The first letdown made the second success that much sweeter.
You will read tales in the media about people who are “overnight successes.” When you scratch the surface, you usually find that each so-called overnight success had been years in the making. Edison (reputedly) said that “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.” I can’t say whether it’s inspiration or perspiration that drives me, but I know that if I keep hacking at it, keep slogging even when those pesky inner demons are telling me negative things, I look back and have a sense of pride at what I have accomplished, simply by showing up at the computer and performing the act of setting words to page.
I know another thing, too. Today, I’m not going to give up. There is another saying: “Don’t leave before the miracle.” I don’t know what is going to happen with what I’m creating. Maybe something, maybe nothing. But I do know one thing – if I stop trying, if I stop persisting, then I guarantee that nothing will happen. If I persist, then who knows?