Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I Have Learned About Perseverance

From the cool site shown above

Learning the market and submitting takes so much time and energy! This is not a whine, just a realization. When I decided to write full time, I didn't have a clue. 

Oh, I belonged to writing groups, revised my manuscripts, studied my copy of Writer's Market or Children's Writer's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and sent my manuscripts out. But I was pretty naive. I didn't expect to have to revise so many times, study the market so many times, submit my stories/books so many times, write so many cover letters, etc., etc.

And then I started getting published -- mostly stories, poems, and flash fiction in magazines, both print and online, both for adults and for children. I won "honorable mention" in some contests. And I was still . . . pretty naive. I thought I had broken into the market, so to speak, and it was going to be much easier to get everything published.

But, I learned about blogs and networks in addition to my writing groups. I picked up terms like "pitching" and "beta readers" and "WIP", etc. And I revised and revised, and studied Writer's Market and Children's Writer's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and sent things out again. And again.

And that's what I've been doing for the last few weeks: Sending things out again.

But, I know some things I didn't know before. I have a keen appreciation now for the word "perseverance," and what it r-e-a-llllly means. 

Even my husband, my chief emotional support through thick and through thin, who always has had faith in my writing, shakes his head at how much perseverance it takes to be a writer. He says he couldn't do it. But I know why. The reason he couldn't do it is that he is blessed not to be a crazy writer. 

If you are a crazy writer, you have to persevere. It's impossible not to. You can set the writing aside for awhile (and sometimes to great benefit and perspective), but sooner or later, the fingers itch, the imagined scenes well up, a character's voice has a particular lilt that makes you wonder who he/she is, or would be, if you can nail it just right in a story. And there you go again, noticing the way light hits maple leaves in the fall, the way ginko leaves scatter like gold coins on sidewalks, and you have to write about all of it. 

Once you've done that, well -- it's not like that manuscript can ever be happy just sitting in the file cabinet. It nags and nags at you until you make it better and go research the market to find it a good home. Perseverance is nothing more than being beholden to a manuscript that will NEVER LEAVE YOU ALONE until you get it through those gates to the reader beyond. 

I sleep better, knowing that. 

How about you?


Jess said...

I'm really only just beginning the journey, but I feel the same way. There's no going back, now ;)

Julie Musil said...

Ah yes, perseverance. But you know what? Patiently going through this journey is much sweeter because I've met such lovely blogger/writer friends, like you :D

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Anyone who knows how long I've been persevering would say I'm insane.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Jess, yes, that's it in a nutshell: There's no going back once you are on that road.

Julie, I find the same thing: Having good company makes the journey easier and more enjoyable. We are all in this together. And writers for the most part are good traveling companions. :-)

Richard, that's probably what Kathryn Stockett was thinking when she was sending out The Help -- 59 rejections!

Kenda Turner said...

I know what you're saying! Once the writing bug takes hold, there's no shaking it off. And then we have these story ideas that won't leave us alone. So even with all that the business requires, we have to persevere. We've got to see this as far as we can go, right? Thanks for the inspiration today :-)

Joanna said...

I am only at the very early stages of revising, receiving critique, revising, more critique... of first manuscripts, and even this takes some perseverance. Have yet to get to your level, Elizabeth, but I know it's a one way road!

Kimberly said...

I'm with Jess, there is no going back.

Lol, Richard, sometimes I think I'm insane to keep doing this. But I love it so much I can't help myself.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Perseverance is something we need by the truckloads, Elizabeth. But, then writing a book teaches us patience and the publishing journey takes it a step forward.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Kenda, I'm glad you found it inspiring.

Joanna, that's a nice way to put it. A one way road. I like that!

Kimberly, I think it's the love of writing that pushes us on. I think if I never got more published than I am now, I would still keep writing. I would have to.

Rachna, I agree that just writing the book, even, teaches us patience. And a good thin, too, considering the road to publication! :-)

Rosi said...

I've hardly had a good night's sleep since I started writing seriously. It's a lousy business, but somebody's got to do it!

Amie Kaufman said...

To be a writer, you have to be crazy... and if we knew how much work lay ahead, we'd probably never start. Thank heavens we didn't know, right?

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rosi, You and me both (re: sleep). I don't know that it's a lousy business. Just tedious. Really tedious.

Amie, I don't know. I definitely would have been daunted. But, do you think we writers really can just decide not to write? I don't think I can.

Unknown said...

I read an authors interview...I think Neil Gaiman. He said he knew he was a writer because he felt he could do nothing else.

That's how I feel. I really could do nothing else. I've been like this since I was 13, and I'm in college with the intent of becoming a writer. Lol.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Ashley, so true, so true. I will be writing forever.

Emailman said...

WOW! It's not just me then haha!! What a great post. You are absolutely right! Man oh man, I've wanted to throw in the towel so many times over the last seven years I've been doing the same thing lol But I won't! I will persevere until I have no breath left in me. I will prevail!!! :)

I hope! lol

Tanya Reimer said...

Well said. Well said.

I tell people that it doesn't really matter if I get paid for my books, because honestly, no amount of money can compensate me for the time, sweat or love put into them. It's like saying you'll pay me to raise my children, impossible to fix a price on dedication like that.

Insane. Yet here we are. here. we. are.