Just what I needed right now: a pep talk via an article entitled “Don’t be afraid of striking out” by Robert Dugoni in the February 2010 issue of The Writer. The relevant quote for me:
“Writing is also a profession of failure. Rejection is, at some level, inevitable. As writers, we can’t become paralyzed at the thought of rejection. We can’t fear it, or seek to avoid it. Rather, we must confront it head on, charge into it with reckless abandon.”
Rejection and failure are facts of life. They make acceptance and success all the sweeter. But dealing with them is harder in some ways than dealing with acceptance and success (which have their own issues at times). Dugoni suggests looking at rejection and failure as a baseball player looks at striking out. One must try in order to have a chance to succeed. Try to hit the ball. Dugoni writes on to say that writers need to learn and practice the three P’s as they try for acceptance and success: patience, perseverance and persistence.
Learning to deal with rejection and failure must have been my karma from a past life and that’s the reason my life’s purpose, my soul’s desire, my bliss, is to write stories, to tell stories to other people. To be a writer. I cannot imagine being even remotely happy doing anything else. However, humans are capable of doing many things, and I’m thankful that I can also do things that will earn the money I need to pay the bills. I still need to practice the three P’s.
Patience. Sometimes I may be too patient. I waited far too long for the agent, to whom I sent the complete manuscript of Perceval, to read my novel and respond back. Lesson learned: set boundaries. The agent apparently thought he had no deadline and then clearly forgot he even had the manuscript. So, it’s perfectly OK to tell an agent or editor that they have a specific amount of time in which to read my submission and respond.
Patience: I think back to when I first hunkered down in my apartment to write short stories. I thought I was a brilliant writer and it would be a piece of cake to get published. That was 1983. I’ve seen a lot of rejections since then, been struck by various realizations that I was not a brilliant writer and I had (have) a lot to learn. But I continued to write, because I had to write. I believed my time would come, I only needed to be patient.
Perseverance seems to be the easy one for me. I don’t even think about it. Persistence on the other hand is to persevere again and again, doggedly, stubbornly, to stand firm in one’s resolve. I must write so perseverance comes easily, but must I submit my stories and essays in order to be a writer? If publication is the goal, yes. If sharing my stories is the goal, yes. I must persist in submitting my writing, in working toward my goals for my writing. I must persist in my perseverance as a writer. Persistence, as Dugoni describes it succintly, is to be a bulldog.
Woof, woof. This past week, a nagging tug from my imagination regarding the first chapter of Perceval. The tug wants me to begin that chapter in a different place. To return to the first novel and make it better. Suddenly, I’ve rejected the current manuscript of the novel myself. My imagination pushes me forward, to open a new file in Word, to haul out the paper copy and begin reading with a red pen…..