Patience and Perseverance

For those of us trying to achieve some personal ambition, my god, it can seem like the path to that dream is one of those horror movie hallways that just gets longer as the hero runs along it .

I’ve occasionally heard new authors make comments like, “I’m not published yet because I haven’t finished my manuscript, but as soon as it’s done, I plan to go with X agent and use Y publisher.”  I want to scoff a little, but also give them a reassuring hug – like you do to a small child who says he wants to be Emperor of the World when he grows up.  These naive writers seem to imagine that the publishing world is just sitting there waiting with baited breath for their submission.   The advance check is already filled out and signed, ready to be sent.  Maybe I was a little like that, too, when I finished the first draft of my novel.

Ten years later, I realize it’s only that simple for a couple of people – people with celebrity, connections or such genius that their work cannot be ignored.  The likelihood of it happening that way for anyone else is about the same as getting struck by lightening while a shark attacks.  And so, for the rest of us, the way to success is to persevere… even when it feels like you’re getting no where.

When asked how a writer keeps going after a rejection, the incredibly talented Marc Nobleman, author of Boys of Steel, said to me, “I just remember that the very next person I ask could say ‘yes.’  Would I ever be able to forgive myself if I knew I gave up when I could have succeeded?”  Such a positive mindset does help keep one focused on the goal, rather than the setbacks.

I also think about sports greats (Federer, Louganis, the Manning brothers, the Williams sisters, to name a few).  Would they have gotten where they are if they’d ever given up when they’d lost?

And sometimes I’ve felt like I am the sound of one hand clapping; I am a tree, alone in the middle of the forest, and I fall… did I make any sound?  When waiting for a reply to an email, I feel invisible, like a silent ghost trying to make contact with the world that cannot… or will not… hear me.  But, I know that everything can change in a moment.  Success is always possible, as long as one maintains patience, faith and perseverance.

It’s hard to keep going when it seems like you’re not getting anywhere, but you’ll never succeed if you stop.  Those of us with a dream that seems so far from being realized must remember that the road is long, but only those who stay on the path will reach their destination.

I always liked this quote from Thomas Mann’s Mario and the Magician:  “Shall we go away whenever life looks like turning in the slightest uncanny, or not quite normal, or even rather painful and mortifying? No, surely not. Rather stay and look matters in the face, brave them out; perhaps precisely in so doing lies a lesson for us to learn.”

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. One of my friends labored for 20 years to get her novels published. Then she hired an agent with a good reputation that represented a friend. The agent entered one of her mystery novels into a contest – which she won. (She had been working on that novel for many years – so it was definitely competition material). The agent used the contest win as a platform to get attention from publishers that have lines of mystery novels and voila – my friend suddenly had not one novel published but a series. She is now working on her second series. Last week I went to the post office and discovered somebody reading my friend’s second novel- and recommending to her coworkers. I was almost in tears. I knew how hard she worked on it. If only she could see. Someday I will be walking through a park and notice someone reading your novel.

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