Persistence. Ugh. Sometimes it’s TOO HARD. In fact, it’s often always hard because if it was easy we wouldn’t call it persistence, we’d call it something else, like, idk, ENJOYMENT.
But it’s necessary.
And so very rewarding.
If you don’t trust me, trust Cap.
You may know if you saw my post from earlier this year that 2018 was a difficult year, to put it mildly. Poor health was followed by a bad episode of depression and struggles with anxiety. Although depression affected pretty much every area of my life there was one bit it targeted with particular cruelty – my writing.
2018 was going to be the year I really took action to make my writing dreams a reality. I paid more attention to craft, I not only finished a book but REVISED it (a fate I’d previously circumvented because ugh), and I engaged in the writing community on Twitter.
So it seemed particularly unfair that it also became the year that I would weep for hours in front of my computer because I believed deep, deep down that everything I wrote was trash. Not the jokey ‘here, have my garbage fire of a draft! lol!’ but a genuine deep belief that this thing I wanted more than I’ve wanted anything for a really, really long time, was out of reach because I simply wasn’t good enough. That I was, and would remain, a failure because of my own incompetence.
I was also weeping in the shower because I’d forgotten to bring a dry towel into the bathroom, to be fair, but the usual self-doubt and cycle of rejection that comes with writing and putting your work out there was amplified a MILLION-fold by the depression. I couldn’t see any of the positive comments from beta readers, only the critical ones. And I mean that almost literally – they became nearly invisible. I know this because once I was well I went back and reread some comments and SAW all these amazing positive things I hadn’t seen before.
HOWEVER! 2018 was also the year that I finished revisions, queried, got full requests, dealt with rejections, queried again, and again, sent to competitions, wrote another book, started writing three other books, came 12th in a writing competition and was awarded a Judge’s Favorite.
For so much of 2018, I was on the verge of quitting.
I was going to give my book away as a PDF to people who were silly enough to want to read it.
I was going to stop querying.
I was going to stop calling myself a writer.
But I didn’t.
Even in the worst moments there was a little corner of my soul that wouldn’t give up
I kept pushing ‘send’ on the queries, even though my heart raced with anxiety every time.
I queried that manuscript 84 times. I moved on to another one. And another one.
I would love to tell you how I did it. But I don’t really know. I know I didn’t do it alone. My writing friends had my back the whole way through – they let me freak out and panic in the DMs, encouraged me, lifted me up, cheered me on.
Treatment helped a TON.
But sadly there’s still no handy medicine for self-doubt and that rears its ugly little head ALL the TIME.
Ultimately, I did it because I kept going. I persisted (see, I told you it was necessary). Even when I loathed every word I put on the paper, I kept writing. I kept revising.
And it does pay off.
This year I entered the same manuscript I spent so much time hating last year into the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Fabulous Five Contest.
It won its category.
Talk about validation!
It’s had more full requests.
My son said after looking at my query spreadsheet and I’d explained all the red was rejections and the scattered green was the requests: “Wow. If you’d let all the red stop you, you’d never have got to the green!”
So simple, so true, and yes, so hard.
But so worth it.
For some reason the heavy wooden rectangle that came in the mail today gave more weight to my achievement.
It made it more real.
I’ve propped it up next to my computer, near my index cards shouting positive and encouraging things, reminders like RUN YOUR RACE.
Because persistence is draining, we need the reminders of the good things on the journey.
It’s very much a journey – I’m still waking up to rejections from agents, still don’t have that publishing deal – but it’s a journey worth taking.
And I know I can do it.