Most everyone has heard by now JK Rowling’s story of being on welfare and having her little story about wizards rejected many times until a small publisher picked her up…and then her books ended up supporting them! Dune was apparently rejected 17 times before landing on the sweet acceptance spot. Stephen King wrote several novels before publishing Carrie (and he nearly abandoned that until his wife Tabby rescued the first few pages from the garbage and encouraged him to keep going) and creating a monstrous publishing empire.
So what if these folks had quit before that last effort where the tumblers fell into place, the key opened the magic lock and the doors to publishing opened wide? How do you know if you’re pursuing a path that will prove ‘successful’ or tilting at windmills with our good friend Master Quixote? It’s a question I’ve asked myself from time to time on this writing journey. I’ve had stories rejected time and again. One short story was rejected 18 times before being accepted by American Airlines Magazine for a magnificent sum. Truly, I about fell out of my chair when the editor made the offer. And all I could think was, ‘thank goodness it wasn’t accepted until now.’ Just these past couple months I had a short story picked up that is over ten years old and I thought was headed for the fabled writer’s trunk. I’ve tried to reason and analyze why some editors pass and others say come on in. The only thing I’ve come up with is that the reasons are vast and unpredictable. Better not think too hard on it and start the next writing project.
I’m reminded of Joe Konrath’s famous quote: “You know what you call writers who don’t give up? Published.” And he’s right, of course. But then again not everything I’ve written has been published. And thank goodness for that. Not all ink spilled across the ivory landscape coalesces into a transporting story. No, sometimes the words don’t work quite the way you want them to. Ideas are easy. Really good ideas are not so easy but are all around. It’s not screwing them up as you try to get them down that is the real trick.
So what’s this philosophic blathering all about? I’m not sure. I guess I’d like to hear from you, whether you’re a writer or not. I’m pretty sure you’re pursuing something that you’d call a dream, or certainly a passion. What are your thoughts on perseverance? When it gets hard, what makes you keep going? When you hit a point of success, what does that look like for you? And how does it make you feel?
I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that resonant with the topic, I think. Oh, and for what it’s worth, in whatever you’re pursuing, don’t give up. There’s gold to be had if you keep digging. More importantly, there’s joy in having pushed through in both the work and belief in yourself. 🙂
“Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.” ~Oscar Wilde
“Beginning writers must appreciate the prerequisites if they hope to become writers. You pay your dues—which takes years.” ~Alex Haley
“You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.” ~Phyllis A. Whitney