Saturday, December 4, 2010
Challenges Along the Writer's Journey
One of the key attributes I’ve learned of being a writer is perseverance. When I began writing I started submitting short stories to magazines and anthologies. On my 112th submittal I sold a story called, “Never Trust a Poison Dart Frog,” to a publication titled Who Died in Here? which was a collection of stories with a death or a murder taking place in a bathroom. Then I bridged into novel length material and in 2005 pitched the idea for my novel to two agents and two editors at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver. Two months later I got a contract offer and in January of 2007 my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published. None of this would have happened if I had given up after the first hundred rejections. And many authors have gone through this saga of hundreds of rejections before achieving success. On the other hand, I want to stay away from becoming compulsive and obsessive about my writing. I have a wife, three kids and four grandchildren who I want to spend time with. Writing isn’t the only part of my life. I write almost every day, but when I’m traveling to be with family I rarely write. That’s family time. The other challenge is adversity along the writer’s journey. Rejections, bad reviews, brutal critiques, agent issues, publishing snafus, etc. I’m reminded of the Stockdale Paradox that Jim Collins described in his book, Good to Great, which describes the experience of Admiral James Stockdale when a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Stockdale stated: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” We have to persevere but also address the reality of our situation.