If there is one thing that a writer (and any artist but I need to shrink the net here) needs to have, even more than talent, it is perseverance. You can gain talent, you can create drive, but without the willingness to keep at it against all odds then you are doomed right out of the gate. Perseverance is the heart of the writer, and without that heart you will never survive.
Unless you are remarkably talented (AND in the right place at the right time, AND have a compelling story, AND…), or very lucky you are going to need that drive to stick to things. Inevitably you will run into rejection in any one of a hundred ways because that is the nature of this beast and you have to be able to put that rejection into perspective and move on. How many people do you think kick themselves because they were not the brave soul willing to take a chance on some new writer that became a huge best seller? In the end, if you are not willing to believe in yourself and your writing, and if you are not willing to be your own champion then you will never be more than another person that writes. And that is fine, it is fine to write, and to paint, and to do anything that makes you happy but if you want to take the next step then you have to push yourself to do it. I love writing, I love painting and all the rest and I love it all enough to want to share it. I don’t need to write stories out for me because they and dozens more are all in my head (though they are pretty nebulous until I write them out, to be honest) but I want to share my stories and art. Take out the money part of it for a moment – the world needs as much art as it can get. There is so much self involvement anymore that many times it is only through the arts that we are able to pull ourselves away from ourselves and can see the world through new eyes. Not that that makes it any easier to put yourself out there but it helps to know that what you are doing is important in some small way.
Looking back at it I find it amazing that for ten years I promoted one book and still stuck with it. I had a lot of doubt, and worry, and fear over those years but I never stopped working on promotion and on ways to promote the book. I still did conventions, I still made chapbooks, I still did what I could to keep promoting Back From Nothing because I believed in it and I believed in myself. It is funny that in threes years now I have released three books with another in the works. My perseverance and patience paid off and self publishing got more legit, better, and the world turned in a way that made it a viable way to get your work out there. Honestly, the consumer doesn’t care if a book or album or any art is self produced or released or published they just want something compelling. Something good. It is the industry and those within it that hate self publishing. And while I may not be with a publisher I still sell books, I still tell good stories, and I still believe in what I do. And in the end the stories will get out there. Even if I had to release my books solely electronically I would do it because they deserve to be out there. I spent ten years looking for a publisher and none bit on my work. And since they never told me anything concrete, simply sending me back my submission and a form letter, I never knew if it was my work, what I sent, or how I sent it. That is the heck of it – that if you don’t write your inquiry letter in a certain way then you may not get past the trash can. It is horrible. Even accepting that there are say, a thousand publishing houses for a hundred thousand writers that we that submit to them are so often treated so poorly is awful. Why do I want to spend hours researching a publisher, spend the money and time to send them my work and then all I will get back is a form letter. That is a joke.
That is why I turned to self publish.
I got tired of waiting.
Some will tell you that you have WAIT and EARN your publishing chops and you are told that you don’t deserve publication unless you have been writing for a certain amount of time and I am here to tell you that those are the sweet lies we believe gladly because we are told them so often. While I think you SHOULD try to get published on websites, in magazines, in books, and in anything you can but you shouldn’t sell your soul to a future you cannot see. You should go the mainstream route while you write, while you create your voice, but you should never settle for the mainstream or nothing because sometimes you have to make the path you want to be on. Sometimes you have no choice.
You have to persevere.
You have to believe.
You have to be willing to believe in your writing.
I would love to have an editor to go over my work, a solid paycheck waiting for me when I finish a book, and I would love to have the luxury of not having to sell AND promote my own work but that isn’t the reality of the situation and it is what it is. You move forward. You don’t look back scratching your head. You have to believe in what you are doing and go forward.
Here’s something I know as an absolute fact – I know and have met a lot of writers, all of them talented, and none of them were rich. Once you get past the need to get rich at writing the easier the rest gets. You can go at things however you want, however works for you, but in the end it all comes down to perseverance, the rest works itself out from there. If you can’t keep believing in yourself, however the path takes you, then you are screwed, plain and simple.
Nothing you love is easy. The easiest part is the writing, the rest is the work, and it’s the rest that you have to make yourself, and as hard as it is, it’s also the most rewarding when you can be there on the front lines when it works and that is where the perseverance pays off. And that is why you keep at it.
That is why I keep at it – to be there when it works, when people ‘get’ it. And it is that which will keep me writing and doing all the art stuff I do.