Wednesday, August 24, 2011

That Old Sticktoitiveness

You've heard of it before.  Stick-to-it-ive-ness.  Hopefully everyone has experienced it least once in their lives.  It's the determination that keeps you going and going and...yeah, like the bunny...going until you get what you want.  Or need.

It's something anyone who decides to write must have.  Oh, you may not have been born with it.  Most of us weren't.  But writing takes determination and a will to go on trying, even in the face of stinky comments from friends and relatives or downright rejection of industry professionals aka agents and editors.

Learning the hard truth is just that--hard.  Why?  Because it's best learned by experience, and experience can hurt.  That experience is usually gained through two things.  Writing (finishing) several books and...the R word.  Rejections.  I wrote several complete novels before I ever submitted to a publisher or agent.  I've also never counted how many rejections I received before I sold my first book, but I admit that each one left an impression.  At times I wanted to quit.  Other times a rejection made me more determined to write a better book.  I'll even admit that there are still some days when throwing in the towel would be easier, especially when the ideas and the words just won't come easily.  But I didn't quit.  I kept persevering.  (Isn't that a nifty word?)

If rejections are getting the better of you or even the thought of them are, here are some tidbits that might help a little.

  • Margaret Mitchell received 38 publisher rejections on Gone With the Wind.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected by 15 publishers.
  • Stephen King's Carrie received dozens of rejections, although he was writing stories for magazines at the time, so he could obviously write.
  • John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, received a dozen rejections from publishers and 16 from agents.
  • Madeline L'Engle received 26 rejections on A Wrinkle in Time.
  • William Golding's Lord of the Flies was rejected by 20 publishers.
  • J.K. Rowling didn't give up after her young boy-turned wizard in a world of magic got a thumbs down from dozens of publishers.  It wasn't until after it was published by a much smaller publishing company and readers had Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in hand, begging for more, that those mega publishers were clamoring for it.
And if that isn't quite enough, here's the latest best-seller addition to the previously-rejected list:
I've been ready to give up many times, and if it hadn't been for two things, I might have, very early on.  The first of those things was a few very special writing friends who were determined that I wouldn't quit and throw in the towel.  The second one was a thought that stayed in my mind and would never be silenced completely.  What if tomorrow would have been the day an editor liked my book, but I quit before I ever sent it?

If you're a writer fighting thoughts of quitting--or someone who isn't a writer but is having thoughts of giving up on anything--stop.  You'll never have what you want or be able to reach your dream if you've left it behind.  If you've recently been rejected, pick yourself up and dust yourself off, then take a closer look at whatever it was that didn't make the cut, and then do your best to fix it and go on.

Remember, no one was born published.
Reach for the moon and land among the stars!


Susan said...

So true, Rox! Even if some days we do feel like we need some help from glue to stick to it...sticking to it is the only thing that works!


Mad Romance Writer aka Rox Delaney said...

Susan sticking to it hasn't been easy for me lately. I did manage to finish a proposal I should have done right after the first of the year, and I still had to force myself to start work on it...only to end up doing revisions. LOL