I sent an email message to family and friends recently that the publisher of Fling! had offered me a three-book contract. It will include my novel Freefall: A Divine Comedy (to be published in 2017), Tillie: Portrait of a Canadian Girl in Training, and a third that also will feature the Tillie character (she appears in Freefall as well).
One long-time friend responded, “You have worked harder as a writer than anyone I know and I’m proud of you!”
I replied, “I’ve learned that perseverance and determination and self-belief are essential to succeeding as a writer.”
But what does this mean?
Let’s start with perseverance. We persevere when we continue doing something even if we have no assurance of success. If writers want to be published, they must endure self-doubt, rejections, and blocks to eventually be published. Writing a novel takes a long time. I started working on Fling! in 1999 and it wasn’t published until 2015! Of course, I wasn’t focused on Fling! all those years. I wrote other novels in the meantime. Yet if I hadn’t persisted, the book would not be out in the world, seeking its readers.
And determination? Clearly, it takes considerable resolve in order to follow this torturous path. Writers have to get up each day, sit down in front of the computer screen, and face the blank page, intent on moving the narrative forward (or even sideways if that’s the direction it wants to take) in order to complete the work. It requires considerable grit, doggedness, and courage to pick up the metaphorical pen and keep writing, no matter what.
By now you can see why self-belief is so essential. If you don’t have basic confidence in yourself as a writer, and that only comes from proving to yourself you have the right stuff by writing regularly, it will be more difficult for you to press on. The more we do something, the more our skills at that task improve. If I want to become a good tennis player, I can’t just go out a few times and swing at some balls. I’ll never develop belief in myself as a tennis player with that approach. But if I take some lessons and pursue the game consistently, I’m bound to improve. The same is true of writing, so that these three words—perseverance, determination, and self-belief—create a circle. Inside that ring is the writer who one day will find publishing success because s/he’s pursued his/her dream.
Hence, Perseverance, determination, and self-belief (PDS) versus Passivity, Doubt, and Fear (PDF).