Words of wisdom… no, hope… no… okay, just words

(I know I just posted a couple days ago that I was recommiting to these posts as morning pages. But kind of this is my morning.)

I recently received a note from a fellow writer who asked: “I… was just wondering how long it has taken you to get to the level you are currently at?  I know you have to pay your dues and all that but just curious because it’s so easy to get discouraged with the market being what it is these days.”

You wanted to know how long it took me to get here.   Hmm…  (Revving engines…)

I always HATED that saying “The ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.”  I railed against it, posted long diatribes, because it’s a specious argument.  While it’s true that you can’t give up if you want to make it, you won’t necessarily make it just because you don’t give up.

The wayside is littered with the corpses of those who didn’t make it, who kept stumbling along and failed anyway.  That’s not even counting the ones who fell right off the starting blocks and rotted there.

I know this sounds dishearting, but bear with me because here’s what I recently figured out:

“The ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.” 

I know, isn’t that crazy?  Just because I hated that saying for not being all the way True (with a capital T) doesn’t stop it from being mostly true (lower case t) in the working sense of the word. 

If you want to make it, you can’t give up.  Even though you have no promises, certainly no guarantees, sometimes not even a smidgen of hope.  Obviously, the path is not for the faint of heart.

I talked to a friend whose husband had sent out his story and been rejected.  Once.  And he gave up.  I tried to not look skeptical, but I did tell her that rejection is endemic, not just until you sell, but after you sell too.  For the rest of your writing life.

“The ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.”

Ever.  You can’t give up ever.  From now until forever.  And that’s a really long time.  I certainly don’t blame my friend’s husband for stopping.  Why walk that long, ugly path riddled with corpses where you have no promise, no guarantee, no hope?  Because (say it with me):

“The ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.”

Are you encouraged yet?  I bet yes.  Because I think, if you are a writer, when I described that road to you, you looked around it, you clenched your fists, and through gritted teeth you said, “I won’t give up.”

Here’s another cold, hard truth: Getting published has always been f!ck’n impossible. The chances of us selling a story was always vanishingly small.  So do you care that in “today’s market” there’s another couple zeros after the decimal point of your chances?  No.  You never had a chance.  You still don’t have a chance.  And if you’re a writer, I bet you’re going to take your chance anyway.  Because (shout it this time):

“The ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.”

Notice how I haven’t come to your actual question yet?  LOL.  Because the answer was my cold, hard truth.  I have over a decade of serious writing, almost a million final-draft words, and nearly triple digit rejections to my name.  Yeah, ouch.

Will your path be that long and rocky (and wordy)?  God, I hope not!  “Paying your dues” is overrated because the balance owed varies.  But if you knew it would be that hard, would you give up now?  No shame if the answer is yes.  But (maybe this time we should get it tramp stamped over our butt cheeks)…

“The ones who make it are the ones who don’t give up.”

I still hate that saying.  And by now probably you do too 🙂  But if it gets you a few steps farther down the path then it served its purpose.

Write on.

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One thought on “Words of wisdom… no, hope… no… okay, just words

  1. Write your pages when the spirit moves you. And I’d like to emphasize what you stated here, years and a million words.

    The Don’t Give Up advice should be “The ones who make it are the ones who keep learning, keep writing, keep submitting, keep learning, keep writing, keep submitting.” That way it shows the journey is what matters, even if the successful career as a novelist is never attained. Because every successful novelist shares the same fate in the end, all proceeds go to our estate.

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