Keep Going

October 6, 2010

Last week I had one of those weeks that seems rare in the life of an aspiring writer. But it illustrates the "persistence is king" adage that many professional writers espouse as key to building a career.

Let's get this out of the way right now: no, I have not been offered a publishing deal. Quite the opposite: I got a rejection this week.

On the sometimes seemingly infinite road to publication, if as a writer you're anything like me, it can feel like you toil away forever with little input regarding the quality of your work.

Sure, there are critique groups, workshops, and conferences and courses in which you can get your work examined by professional writers. But these are so often focused on improving the work presented, that often it becomes hard to tell where the work currently stands. At least, it does for me; maybe I'm just hard on myself.

Don't get me wrong. I love critiques. I learn an incredible amount from critiques. They always make my stories better. Without critiques I'd be nowhere.

I made the decision to take a serious stab at a writing career six years ago. In six years, I've read up on craft, learned how to give and take feedback, and slowly gotten better as a writer. But in six years (friends & family, I know you love me, but for the purposes of this exercise your opinion has to be taken with a grain of salt  :-), what I haven't been able to figure out for sure is if my stories entertain.

Until this week, when several people I respect told me in no uncertain terms that they were entertained by something I wrote. And different stories too!

So here's the takeaway: if you're a writer, keeping going. Keep plugging away, even if you've been at it for years, because in and among the form letters and rejections, you never know when just around the corner you might find someone standing and waving your pages, saying "thanks for a good story".

And isn't that what makes it all worthwhile?

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