Establishing yourself as an author or freelance writer is not a task for the faint-hearted. I am realizing this everyday, but I’m also realizing that there are thousands of writers who succeeded because of their perseverance. Would you believe that authors like Stephen King, Carrie, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar and Agatha Christie, Murder on The Orient Express, to name just a few, all experienced the pain of rejection. When I think of what these famous people have contributed to the world of literature, I wonder where we would be if they had given up.

Perseverance is as important as talent

When you decide to become a writer, prepare yourself for rejection; whether from literary agents, magazine editors or even the public. However, do not let that stop you. Each rejection, instead of discouraging you, should increase your determination to do better. Get a professional critique, attend writers’ conferences where you can pitch your idea face to face to an agent and get feedback, join a writer’s group. Then polish, polish, polish. Here is how three famous authors handled rejection. Judy Blume, author of the Fudge books, received nothing but rejection for two years. She said, “I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.”

Keep on writing

Jane Austen, whose Pride and Prejudice was instantly rejected by the publisher whom her father sent it to, continued working on her other novels and it was later published by the same person who published Sense and Sensibility. Stephen King says in his book On Writing, “By the time I was fourteen … the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” There’s a common thread in the way these icons handled rejection. One, they didn’t give up and two, they worked on something new. The latter is important because it helps you to continue practicing your skills, possibly making the second book better than the first and increasing your chances of success.

Shake off that dirt

Perseverance in writing or any other endeavor, reminds me of a little anecdote I heard from a preacher on television. He told of a horse that had grown old and the owner thought he would bury the poor animal. So, he dug a hole, called his friends and they began to throw dirt on the horse. When they left, the horse shook the dirt off and stomped on it. They came back, looked at the horse, went back, got more dirt and poured it on the animal. He once again shook it off and stomped on it. His owner repeated the process and the horse reacted in the same way, but each time the horse stomped on the dirt he rose a little higher. Eventually the time came when that horse shook off the dirt, stomped on it, rose out of that hole and bolted to freedom.

The lesson is that agents, editors and others in the literary world will throw some dirt on you, but you have a choice. You can either let that dirt bury you or you can use it to help you rise a little higher. What is it going to be? As always, your comments are welcome.

Leave a Comment »