Monday, February 20, 2012

Tangible Markers in the Road

The surest way to failure is adopting an “all-or-nothing” approach (this doesn’t just pertain to writing–it pertains to life as well).
“Oh, I didn’t get an agent this year because nobody appreciates my work–well, I’ll stop writing! That’ll show them!” the stubborn rookie writer says. And with that, he or she descends into a sullen drought of creativity which is, for the most part, self-imposed. And yes, we think, with an air of amusement, you sure told us! You sure taught us a lesson!
Another metaphor that high-school seniors might appreciate: “I didn’t get into MIT, Harvard, or Stanford so I might as well go to community college and man the deep-fryer at KFC.”
Listen, writers. If you turn around from that locked door you’re trying to bang down, you might be able to see other ways to get where you want to go. I know you have wonderful dreams, but so do a lot, a lot, a lot of other people, who might not deserve it as much as you do, but who have waited in line longer than you have. Sure, there are some who spend hardly any time paying their dues, but you hear about them all the time because these cases are rare.
I’ve heard peers discount famous people who write books: “It’s a bunch of drivel. You don’t need talent. You just have to be famous.” But these celebrities spent time and energy cultivating their reputations, if you think about it.
If this manuscript doesn’t get picked up, do other things–poetry, short stories, essays, et cetera. Enter competitions. Submit to literary magazines. Obtain some tangible fruits of your labor that will prepare you to be as good, if not better, than the others.
Yes, it’s going to be frustrating. Yes, you’re going to feel unappreciated and unloved. But persevere. If you really have what it takes, if you really want to have your story told, then you’ll do everything in your power to make it happen.
Just don’t quit. Even a snail will get there eventually.

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