Another win for persistence

Second administrative note for everyone who attended Friday’s 1:00 PM panel: on the worksheet where it says, “NEVER say ‘thank you’ to an editor,” it should have said, “NEVER say anything but ‘thank you!’ to an editor. Whoops! And here I thought I’d meticulously proofed that two-pager. Just goes to show you that the writing mind often inserts words mentally where there aren’t really words. Crap, now there is probably someone who will NEVER say ‘thank you’ to an editor, it will doom their writing career, and in 10 years they’ll show up at a con I’m attending, with a shotgun and a suicide note…

Meanwhile, I got some news via Facebook that makes me smile mighty big. Someone I know through the InterToob who has been working very hard at his writing for many years, finally had a terrific win. Big-time stuff. The sort of stuff that makes you want to stand up and do the Bill Cosby Boogie. We’ve butted heads once or twice — you know how the InterToob is — but I’ve always hoped (as a fellow traveler) that this gentleman would have the satisfaction of a certain significant publication victory.

Now he has it. I’ll let him crow when he’s got official clearance to crow, but for now I want to remind EVERYBODY — especially people who came to panels at CONduit — that this really is a persistence game. No magic tricks. No secret passwords. No luck involved. Because luck is MADE through diligence and unrelenting effort. You keep writing and you keep working hard and using your time to do what Dean Wesley Smith calls ‘focused learning’ and you will succeed. Might take years. Heck, for the above-mentioned fellow, it did take years. It took me years too. But it can be done, if you have even a smidgen of talent. Hard work and never giving up are 90% of it. Really.


6 thoughts on “Another win for persistence

  1. 2010 Q1 WotF winner, I’m guessing?

    Anyway, well put, and inspiring. I guess it’s good to have patience with the market, and have little to no patience with yourself. As K.D. says, Bring out your best ammunition. Eventually, you’ll hit the target. Unless you’re shooting blindfolded.

  2. I think the two big keys for me were to stop letting rejections talk me into slowing or stopping, and to not be afraid to try something different with each story. Some writers tell the same story 100 times, roughly the same way, and wonder why they get rejected. In 2008 when I came back to doing short fiction, I deliberately set out to do some different stuff. 1st Person instead of 3rd Person, shorter works, grittier works, emphasis on descriptives, cutting out too-long expositional passages, etc. People can write 1,000,000 words and go nowhere unless they pay attention to how they’re writing and try to improve on past stories. Also, pay attention to what you read and what you enjoy. Look at how the author built a particularly well done story. Mimic parts of that — style, pace, whatever — in your next story. See what happens.

  3. I read a book called MASTERY in which the author talks about the long periods on the plateau. In other words, the “sensation” of learning — those exciting moments — happen infrequently. Most of the time is spent on the seemingly flat level of existence, just doing. Then, after some time on the plateau, we have another sensation of improving, of learning. That, will level off, and we’re back on the plateau. This continues on throughout life to anyone who is committed to mastering anything.

    For me, it was the plateaus that made me walk away from writing. I loved the idea of learning, of improving, and then it would all taper off and I was stuck just writing.

    Another way to put it: the thrill of the beginning wore off. After that, it’s just the hard work of sitting down and doing.

    For me, that’s the key to persistence. Just living the writer’s life: writing, finishing, mailing. Over and over. There’ll be great moments — moments when everything seems to come together and you’re writing on a new level — and of course the moments when you sell — but most of the time its just writing, finishing, and mailing.

    This is the key reason why I picked up a story-a-week challenge.

    Just to learn how to persist in living a writer’s life.

  4. As my 100th rejection came and went, I told myself that it is just a sign of persistence.

    The higher my race score goes though, the more those little letters find their way back to me. Doom! 🙂

    I like your handout, btw, Brad. Maybe you’ll make it to Norwescon next year and we can do a panel together 🙂

  5. Norwescon would be awesome, Annie. I have to start looking at my budget for next year, to see if I can afford it. And yes, your 100th rejection is absolutely a sign of persistence. The more you accumulate, the more clear it is you’re hitting the keyboard hard and sending the work. Go! Go!!

  6. Thanks for coming to Conduit, Brad, and for printing up that sheet of submission tips. Lots of helpful advice at that convention–I’m glad I went, and hope to come again next year.
    I’ll try to keep persistent in the meantime. So far this year’s been good for racking up rejection notices, but I’ll try to keep at it anyways!

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