Before moving on, I thought I’d post this picture of a bloom from a Periwinkle plant. I have lots of the flowers outside across the front of my house, and they are so lush that sometimes I clip a few to bring inside. The blooms don’t last long, and I’ve never had a bud open in the house until now. The shape of the petals is quite unique, don’t you think?
Recent flares of pain from that unwelcome guest, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, have laid me low for a while, and I have a hard time sustaining any activities without the use of pain meds, which I hate to take. But I do, when needed, so I can function at some level of normalcy.
This issue, which is now closing in on the end of the third year, also wears me down emotionally, making it even harder to gear myself up for much of anything, including writing. Realizing that, I thought about this article I wrote some time ago about tenacity, and writers who used it to charge on despite challenges in their way.
It’s a good reminder for me, at this juncture, and may even offer some inspiration to others.
Some people say it takes an enormous amount of talent to succeed in the highly competitive field of writing. Others consider luck to be the determining factor. But I’ve always believed in tenacity. The kind of tenacity that kept Zane Grey in New York long after the first fifteen publishers told him to go back to his barber’s chair.
We’re all familiar with such stories of perseverance and determination – the ones that keep a writer going until someone has the good sense to recognize the talent. It’s part of that indomitable spirit that separates those who would write from those who do.
But the spirit is as elusive as the muse. It abandons us at the flick of a rejection letter, tempting us to throw up our hands and say, “Dat’s all folks!”
I’ve done that a lot. Quit, I mean. If I just stop, I reason, my life would be so much simpler. Just think, no more pitches to an editor about a story idea that lost its sparkle even as I spoke. No more writing hate mail to the producer who beat me to the screen with my latest great idea. No more impossible deadlines that reduce me to bribing my children to cook supper. No more forcing my way through a logjam of ideas that refuse to make sense. No more painful cutting of the junk I wrote the day before.
No more having to write.
I could go back to all those things I gave up to make room for writing and probably have a lot more fun.
At times, this thought of quitting has held so much appeal, I’ve even toyed with the idea of writing an article about it: The Day I Decided Not To Be A Writer. Slip in a little humor here and there, and maybe it would even sell. But wait a minute. That would mean I’m writing again.
I used to feel inordinately proud as the cycle of frustration completed itself and the spirit won out over my desire to replace Word for Solitaire. I’d mentally inventory all the obstacles I’d overcome and be amazed. Like the Valiant Tailor in the Grimm’s fairy tale, I wanted to stitch a belt proclaiming my accomplishment, “Seven at one blow.”
But then I thought about all the writers I know, or have known, who overcame much bigger obstacles than the frustrations of the business and kept putting words to pages.
- A blind writer who continually loses tools no amount of technology can replace.
- A friend who slogged through her last book hampered by the sludge of a mind drowning in personal problems.
- Another friend who continued to write during her losing battle with cancer.
- The writer who has such severe back problems she can only sit at her computer for a couple of hours a day.
These writers define tenacity. They all had perfectly legitimate reasons to quit, but they didn’t. They faced the challenge, conquered the demon, and kept on going. How can I even consider giving up just because I can’t handle the downside of the career?
Maybe I should make a banner proclaiming their heroics. I could hang it in my office to remind me that there are much worse things than a rejection letter.
Or Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
Here’s hoping your week starts off well, and let me know if you find this article helpful. Be Safe. Be Happy