Sunday, June 10, 2007

Talent and Persistence

By C.L. Beck
© 2007

There’s a little booklet that’s fun to read. It’s called Bits and Pieces and has inspirational sayings, quotations and short, short stories. I’m sure I enjoy it for the inspiration, but also because I can relate to the name. That’s me—falling apart in bits and pieces.

The issue I’ve been mulling is about persistence. So many times as writers we think we have to be enormously talented in order to succeed, and when the going gets tough, we give up. Because we get rejection after rejection, we think our writing is worthless and that we can’t put two sentences together that make sense.

I’ve heard it said that anyone who writes and persists long enough will eventually get published. I think that’s probably true, as long as we view the rejections as a tool to improve our writing.

The hard part about knowing we’ll eventually get published is that “eventually” drives us crazy. Exactly how long is “eventually”? Two months? A year? All of us would keep going if we knew a fat contract would arrive in two months. Most of us could keep going for a year. Unfortunately, no one I know owns a crystal ball, a seer stone, or even a magic eight ball to tell the future. And so we’re stuck waiting and trying not to give up.

For those who’ve just gotten their first, fifteenth or fiftieth rejection, here’s a quote to make you feel better.

“I believe that most people place an undue influence on talent. I don’t doubt that it exists, but talent is essentially a potential for something. The issue really is not talent as an independent element, but talent in relationship to will, desire, and persistence. Talent without those things vanishes and even modest talent with those characteristics grows.”
~ MILTON GLASER, Graphic artist
(Quoted from Bits and Pieces on Persistence by Rob Gilbert, Pg. 10).

If today is one of those days where you’ve told yourself you’re crazy to think you’ll ever get anything published, take the quote and tape it to your computer screen. Then finish that work in progress and mail it off. Then mail off another.

Modest talent may be the door to publication, but persistence is the key that turns the lock.

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