per·se·ver·ance noun \ˌpər-sə-ˈvir-ən(t)s\ the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult. See also insanity and banging head against the wall.
Cruising Facebook today, I clicked on a friend’s link to a blog posting with advice from famous authors about what aspiring writers should do. Between Kurt Vonnegut’s prohibition on the use of semi-colons and Dorothy Parker’s advice to shoot your friends before they start writing while they are still happy, the common advice was write, write, write.
Sounds easy in theory. Even in practice, knocking out something, even the crappiest of crapola, isn’t too difficult. But doing it day after day, when the outwardly visible rewards are miniscule if not non-existent, requires perseverance.
Every writer knows this. I know this. I didn’t start writing because I thought it was the get rich quick scheme to secure mine and the hubby’s future. Even so, when I recently opened a royalty check, the modest figure staring back at me brutally reminded me that I’m not E.L. James or J.K. Rowling in the sales department.
Few authors are. Making it big, and I mean really big, as a writer is like hitting the jackpot in Vegas. It happens, but not a lot. Yet, people still pour money into the one-armed-bandits, and we writers keep putting words on paper. So, I asked myself: why do I insist on pursuing a dream where the compensation is (at least at this point in my career) dramatically less than working the fast food drive thru and the prospect of hitting the jackpot is so small?
The answer to my query was two-fold: beside the fact that I would hate smelling like burgers and fries, I also do not look good in a visor. That answer left me pondering whether a grocery sacker career path might be in my future. After all, I can rock a white shirt and tie and get the eggs and bread bagged for the trip home safely.
Then, I remembered the little square on my daughter’s “Star of the Week” poster captioned, “My Hero.” A lovely stick-figure picture of yours truly filled the box and she wrote: “My mom is my hero because she has perseverance.”
Well, if that’s not enough to get me to toss my teeny-tiny-violin-of-self-pity in the garbage, then what is?
Like every other writer, I write because I love it. Maybe some day I’ll hit the jackpot, maybe I won’t. But in the meantime, I plan on being a role model to my kids and friends. What might look like banging my head against the wall is really perseverance. And, I’m having a blast!
So, if you’ve ever said “I’ve always wanted to write a book” or if you’ve already started down this path of insanity, then go write something. Now. Anything. For five minutes. Ten minutes. An hour or more. Whether you earn a million dollars from your words or nothing, you will have changed your life for the better and I’m betting you will have shown at least a few other people the value in pursuing a dream.