Yesterday I wrote about Lynn Viehl’s journey to the New York Times bestseller list and how it reminded me that persistence is one of the most important things to have when pursuing a writing career.
Last night, as I was doing more research on prospective agents, I found two posts that tell anecdotes that prove that persistence really is key.
First up is a guest blog post from literary agent Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis Inc., on Lyons Literary LLC agent Jonathon Lyons‘ blog. Necarsulmer’s post is from 2007, but it might as well have been from yesterday. He tells the story of a client’s book that he had a hard time selling and how it finally found a home when an editor read it and called it a “gem.” Here’s an excerpt from Necarsulmer’s guest post:
The reason I tell this story is not to encourage Hail Mary submissions to as many editors as possible, but rather as a reminder of what an enormous part perseverance and individual editorial subjectivity play in our business today.
Second is a more recent post from author Toni McGee Causey, who wrote about persistence on the Murderati blog. McGee Causey’s post talks about when to quit (or not; click the link and have a read), using British singing sensation Susan Boyle, who I’m sure you’ve seen on YouTube (the clip made me cry) and author Christie Craig, who, as McGee Causey tells us, showed a room full of conference attendees her thousands of rejection letters. Thousands! (You’ll have to scroll down the blog post to read the story, but it’s worth it.) Here’s an excerpt:
Christie became the definition… of tenacity. Determination. She has talent, and the skill to put it to good use.
Here’s another excerpt, this time about McGee Causey’s own rise to publishing success:
…When I got that phone call about the offer, it was a soaring feeling, like the audience suddenly coming to its feet on that second line of Susan Boyle’s performance. Almost twenty years to the day after I’d first sent out my first non-fiction piece. It wasn’t overnight. I’d worked two jobs, gone back to school, was mom to two boys, helped run a construction company, and wrote in the wee hours of the night when everyone was asleep, because I dreamed a dream. I wanted it. I wanted it enough to not sleep that extra hour, to take the notebook with me to the kids’ practice, to skip out on movies or TV shows.
That’s persistence. That’s what sets apart the successful and the not successful — I truly believe this. Lots of people have talent, but not the drive to see it through. Lots of people can start a novel, but never finish it. Lots of people have dreams, but don’t want to put in the work to make them come true. It is work, and it demands sacrifices. But if you’re persistent, it will happen.