The Four Ps and how I live by Them
It’s been five full years that I have been writing seriously (and I’m not even going to count the summers before when I secretly filled spiral notebooks with my mad ramblings). That’s five years of working with two online critique groups, attending conferences, querying, stopping, starting over ,WHINING, CRYING, threatening to QUIT..then starting again. Five years of thinking--THIS IS IT! This is the ONE! This ms is so ready—then finding out not. Five years of—if you would revise this, I’d consider it again. Then landing a big agent. Losing a big agent. Watching writer pal after writer pal get agented then getting a book deal. Feeling bad. Then feeling ecstatic that so many people I know have managed what I used to believe was impossible. Yay to all of you! You know who you are—my bookcase is filling up with your books with more on the way (four pals with books in print, nine with contracts).
Am I dying inside? Turning green with envy? Nope. Far from it. Let me be honest. I hate rejection. But it doesn’t have the edge it used to. I know it’s not personal. I know I can write! At the same time the thought of getting published doesn’t seem like the end all and be all, though I remain in dogged pursuit. I’m very goal oriented!
The way I see it is, I’ve got stories to tell. Lots of them. Characters that want to be heard. They just aren’t going to shut up, whether some one wants to put them in print or not. I don’t know the ending to this story. I may never hit it right—the right hook, in the right voice at the right time.
They can write it on my epitaph in poor English: She plodded until she couldn’t plod no more, (or maybe plotted until she couldn’t plot no more).
So now for those Four Ps.
Perseverance—continuing to write and better your craft, in the face of rejection, while not concerning yourself with who sold what and who is repped by whom. Realizing that everyone walks their own path and that the only ones who get there are the ones who just keep walking, even if the soles have worn off the bottom of their shoes.
Persistence—Hammering away at a manuscript, re-envisioning it, buffing it, hacking it if need be, but doing whatever it takes to make it the best you possibly can. Then finishing that one and starting your next.
Patience— The patience to wait until your manuscript has been critiqued, edited, revised until you KNOW it’s where it should be. Of course, with each new book, you set the bar higher. Patience to wait for agent responses—you CAN’T bug them! And, even still, I’ve learned from my contracted friends—you need patience to wait for your editorial notes. (Which I will frame if I ever get one.)
Perspective (this one is courtesy of Emily Murdoch from the querytracker forum)—You are writing because you love it and there’s no limit on what you can achieve if you really want it. So remember to enjoy the ride, savor those words, and never compare your successes to others. Getting published is not the reason to write. Writing is the reason to write.
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