Edith here, with so many tomatoes in my kitchen it’s turning red.
I’ve been thinking about persistence lately. Some of us have talked here and there about how important this trait is for authors to have and cultivate. Why would that be?
Let’s start with finishing a first draft. If you don’t persist and write through to the end, it’s not a book. Not a book you can revise and polish, not a book you can land an agent with, not a book you can sell to a publishing house, and more important, not a book anyone else will ever read. I just finished writing my seventeenth first draft of a novel, and there sure were times I didn’t want to keep digging, keep writing, keep trying to discern what needed to happen next. But I did. The author adage of “Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard” really just boils down to persistence.
Querying agents takes a huge amount of persistence. You just have to keep going until you have one, or more than one, who wants to take you on. You might have to suffer through a hundred rejections. Once you do sign with an agent, it’s his or her job to persist until your book is sold.
And even before that, you need to persist all over again and come up with another book, the best book you can write, and then another.
Of course we persist in all kinds of other areas of our lives. Maybe it’s coming up with a peace treaty both sides can live with. Maybe it’s conceiving a child. Maybe it’s being patient and firm with a recalcitrant teenage child. Finding good care for an elderly parent. Weeding the garden. Scrubbing a burnt pot. Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail – or just continuing to pedal to the top of a hill.
Standing up for the rights of those without a voice is a great place to persist. What if Rosa Parks hadn’t persisted, or Gloria Steinem? Sojourner Truth or Margaret Sanger?
Julie and I share a senator who persists in standing up for the middle class, transparency in financial transactions, and so much more.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to persist in the first pass revisions of Death Over Easy!
Readers: Where have you persisted with good results? Any place it backfired on you? Which persistent person do you admire?