Perseverance is Key

I’ve been trying to write since 1988. I think most writers meet with some kind of hindrance in practicing the craft, whether it be family obligations, job, or health problems. But when I sold my first piece to a magazine in 1989, I was hooked. Nothing could stop me now. I wrote and submitted like a crazy person, selling a manuscript now and then, usually for a meager sum to a small periodical. Rejections poured in, but I was determined not to give up. For one thing, writing isn’t a hobby for me, it’s a calling. I believe God has things for all of us to do. Mine is writing.

During a family gathering at our house one evening, I passed around a short, published article of mine. I hoped my family would be proud of the accomplishment. And most of them were, but one individual read it and said, “Is this all there is to it? I thought it was going to be something big.” I felt as though I’d been kicked in the stomach. That statement haunted me for a long time. It didn’t keep me from writing, but it sure cut a swath through my self-confidence.  Was it really worth it? Could I write or was I only kidding myself?

Around this time, I wrote a children’s piece and sent it to a colleague who edited for a living. She felt it was ready for publication and encouraged me to submit it. I dutifully sent it out but it kept coming back over and over with the statement, “It just doesn’t fit our needs.” Over a period of ten years, I submitted that piece thirty-one times. I wouldn’t stop because I had a lot of respect for the woman who edited the piece. Kathryn knew what she was talking about. On the thirty-first submission, I received an acceptance—from a magazine that had rejected it several years earlier. It made a believer out of me. Perseverance is the key.

I’ve always worked but sometimes only part time. But the day came when my husband needed to retire. That meant I needed to work fulltime. An opportunity presented itself at the bookstore where I was employed. The manager/buyer was retiring and a replacement was needed. I jumped at the chance. The only thing I enjoy as much as writing is bookselling.

My writing suffered, but I managed to put enough material together to turn in to my critique group every other week and eventually finish a novel. I found an agent who took me on in spite of the fact I was an unknown and had only published nonfiction. As time passed without an acceptance, I thought about telling him to forget it. Maybe I had been fooling myself into thinking I could write. Just as skepticism was about to get the best of me, I received an email with a contract attached. My novel had been accepted. I remembered the children’s article I submitted thirty-one times before it sold. It pays to be patient. Had I not learned the lesson of perseverance early in my career I might not be the author of a soon-to-be-released new novel.

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