Gaye Mack’s Blog

NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART-DISCOURAGEMENT AND PERSEVERANCE: THE REALITY FOR ASPIRING WRITERS

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Articles, Worth the Read, Writer's Work 2 Comments

Like a bad cough you can’t get rid of in the winter, discouragement and perseverance are part of the package for any aspiring writer who dreams of their work being valued by someone other than their mother.  My guest for this post is the best-selling author of The War of the Roses, Warren Adler.  Warren’s piece on ‘Rejection and Renewal’ is a reality check.  The reality is that it takes more than just WANTING your creativity to land somewhere other than on a forgotten USB stick or in garage boxes…that ‘the road less traveled’ is fraught with discouragement and one that demands perseverance.  For readers, it gives a peek into the prelude of that book they love.

THE PRELUDE

 You’ve spent months, perhaps years, composing your novel. You’ve read and reread it hundreds of times. You’ve rethought it, rewritten it, and revised it, changed characters, dialogue, and plot lines. Writing your novel is the most important thing in your life. It has absorbed your attention, almost exclusively. Both your conscious and your subconscious mind have been obsessed with it.

You have read parts of it to your friends, family, former teachers. Most think it’s wonderful. You have finally considered it finished. Armed with optimism and self-confidence, you obtain from the Internet a list of agents and begin to canvass. You agonize over whether to send your precious manuscript to one agent at a time or to a number of agents.

THE  DIVE

 You choose the first option. Just in case, you send it electronically, unsure of whether or not this is now standard practice. You have high hopes. You are aware of the massive changes in the publishing business, but have chosen to take the traditional path as your first option. Waiting, Waiting . . . Weeks go by, then months. The agents are, you believe, reading it in the office, passing it around, deciding to take it on. You live on such hopes. Finally you call the agent’s office. They haven’t a clue as to who you are. Somehow, they are reminded and search through the piles of manuscripts in their office, find yours, and send you back a standardized letter, perhaps out of politeness made to look like an original. Well then, you tell yourself, it is only one agent’s opinion.

You send it off to another agent. A letter comes back swiftly, similarly worded. You get bolder, send your manuscript to two agents at a time, then three, then every agent you can find. Nothing happens. “Good luck on getting published,” they tell you. “Not for us.” Sometimes there is a personal, scribbled note that says something nice and you live in its glow for days. More Waiting . . . Years go by.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…

 You start another novel, but you are less optimistic now, less confident, unsure. You tell yourself you have not paid enough attention to the marketplace. You begin to analyze what is selling, what is not selling, what is being published. You read books on the best-seller lists and are certain you can do a lot better. You try to use these books as a guide to what is selling and you write accordingly. Nothing helps. You are continuously rejected.

Then . . . you begin to read on various websites about how you can publish your own books and get them marketed on electronic venues. Some sites promise that they can get your book in front of movie producers for a price. Some say they have the magic to make you a successful career novelist, again, for a price. For even more money, you will be told how best to market your book. You debate the idea and as your pile of rejection letters mount, you give it a try. You spend money. A book is produced in print-on-demand format and an E-Book is created and placed on every electronic sales venue on the net. Your family buys copies and sends them to friends. It is even reviewed in publications that review self-published books, yet again for a price. There is a word or two of praise in the review and you send it around to the media and everybody you know. Unfortunately, there is little or no sales, no afterlife.

THE CRASH

Despite your confidence in your ability, despite the fact that you truly believe your novel is certainly worthy of publication, you feel the full impact of rejection and failure. Try and Try Again . . . Still, you cannot shake the certainty or your talent. You write another novel. Perhaps a third. Perhaps more. You go through the same process. Again and again you are rejected. You begin to question your ability, your ideas and your talent. Is it a fantasy, an exercise in unrealistic aspirations? You are becoming embittered. Your dream is crashing.

If you are fortunate, your wife, husband, partner and family stick by you, continue to encourage your dream, help you keep it alive. Other realities begin to chip away at the dream. You have financial obligations. Your kids are growing up. You are losing out in the job market. Others are moving up in their jobs, while you are falling behind. You feel lost, adrift. Rejection after rejection has beaten you down. You see this as the end of your world, the end of your hopes and aspirations. Your high hopes and self-confidence in your own talent is petering away. What now?

REALITY

No Magic Pill. If you’ve read this far without your stomach congealing, I suppose you are awaiting some prescription offering a magic pill for coping. Sorry, there isn’t any available your corner drugstore, and you won’t find it here. Luck—that strange, illusive, heaven-sent burst of good fortune—has not fired a missile in your direction. Not yet. 

You have three choices:  

The first is personal surrender. You’ve been on a fool’s errand following an adolescent dream. Time to throw in the towel and concentrate on your day job. At least you tried.

 The second choice is postponement. You weren’t ready. You needed more experience of life. But you continue to believe it will come. Some talented people are late bloomers. Give the dream a rest. Wishing won’t make it so. There are enough popular clichés to give you courage.

 Now, for your third choice, the clincher. It is not recommended for the faint of heart: never give up. Never, never, never. It may be impractical, unwise, foolish, pure madness, but if you truly believe in yourself, your talent, your ideas, your calling, your personal mission, why not, as Lewis Carroll wrote, “go on until the end, and then stop.”

It Takes Determination and Perseverance To do this requires a monumental ego, total self-confidence in your talent, and an unshakable belief that you have been anointed with the right stuff. You will require obsessive focus, singleness of purpose, a draconian ruthlessness, and total devotion to a belief in your artistic ability. Fancy words, I know, but with the absence of luck, you will need these attributes to sustain you through the process. What this means for the true novelist is that he or she must continue to soldier on, keep writing, keep trying, taking the increasingly painful hits of rejection after rejection until, well, until someone out there catches on…or doesn’t.

We are all waiting for Godot. Sometimes he comes.

warren adler

Warren Adler

Best-Selling Author and advocate for aspiring writers

 

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AS SATURN TURNS DIRECT WE CAN EXHALE AND PERSEVERE IN WRITING MODE SURVIVAL WITH THESE REMINDERS

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

After five months of pure slog, Saturn, the ‘old Devil’, the task master in everyone’s chart, has finally finished his retrograde motion, Stationing Direct as of today.  When Saturn turns retrograde, his energy commands us to review, rethink and redo, sometimes over and over.  So if life or particular efforts have seemed stuck or full of chronic frustrations in a particular area since early February, making it seem as if you’ve been walking up the down escalator; this is no accident.  Most likely it’s the energy of this retrograde with specific purpose in mind and our best interests at the heart.   As I’ve said in prior posts, the energy of a planet’s retrograde is to encourage us to go inward, to contemplate, consider, revise.  In other words, a course correction. 

Highly respected evolutionary astrologer, Steven Forrest, identifies among Saturn’s ‘jobs’ as representing development of self-discipline, self-respect, faith in our destiny AND making peace with solitude.  I can’t think of any other phrases that hit the nail on the head when it comes to  critical characteristics required in the perseverance of writing, regardless of whether we are speaking about writing fiction or non-fiction.  I may have mentioned this in a prior blog, but it bears repeating here, I think.  Years ago, I had a very well-known astrologer and author tell me, ‘writing is the loneliest, hardest, work you will ever do.  Nearly forty years later I have to agree, this is as true today as it was  when I was just starting out as an undergraduate.

Ironically, as if right on time, this morning I received a blog posting notice from Susan Lakin’s ‘Live Write Thrive’ blog on which she posted an article from her guest, Brian Feinblum who blogs at Book Marketing Buzz.  The title of this post is, 16 Tips on How to Survive and Thrive as a Writer.

Brian’s article is excellent and incredibly timely for those of us who ‘write to thrive’  within Saturn’s recent energy framework over the last five months.  What follows is Brian’s brief introduction and his first five points of how to survive as a writer.  However, I encourage you to read his full article at Susan’s blog.  It’s ‘well worth the read’!

Today, people believe they can social network their way to the top, that they are one witty tweet or one viral video away from making millions. They want to be on a reality show, they want to blog their way to fame, they want to create the next Facebook—but they fail to put in the hard work that is needed.

Those involved in book publishing seek to cash in their lottery ticket. Everyone who writes a book has the hope—even the expectation—that they will have a best-seller on their hands. Who is there to give them a tissue box when their Book Scan numbers don’t register beyond a blip of sales? But, reality aside, here’s the pep talk all writers will need at some point in their careers. Put aside the need for hard work, luck, connections, great writing, hiring professional help, etc.

 The 16 Tips for Thriving

  • Always believe in yourself. You have something to offer others, something worth sharing, something unique and special.
  • Know the experts are not always right. There is rarely one singular way to do anything. Find your own style and way to do what you need to do to succeed.
  • Never accept defeat. Change course, yes. Give up, no. Admit you made an error or mistake but don’t throw in the towel.
  • Learn from others. Copy the habits of successful people when it suits you but don’t be just like them. The world needs you—not a replica of someone else.
  • Realize you can improve every aspect of your writing, editing, publicity, marketing, sales, distribution, etc. Push the bar higher and keep reaching beyond your comfort zone.