I realized early on that if I keep posting about my own frustrations and insecurities when it comes to writing, these posts are going to start sounding very similar. So last month, I decided to move away from "woe is me" and focus on motivation and encouragement. With all of my IWSG entries going forward, I'll be offering an inspirational quote from someone I admire.
Today's quote comes from another writing giant that was directly responsible for my love of speculative fiction growing up. Along with Heinlein and Clarke, he was known during his lifetime as one of the "big three" in science fiction, and for good reason. I'm talking about Isaac Asimov, who had these encouraging words for unpublished writers still struggling to make some headway:
You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success - but only if you persist.
There's not much room for interpretation with this one. Like much of Asimov's work, it's straight to the point and the message is clear: don't give up. Even in the face of repeated and monumental failure, even when it seems like the only fruit of your labor is cold, hard rejection, don't give up.
And outside of, "Just write the damned thing," I'm not sure I've ever heard a bit of advice more universally applicable for writers of all shapes, sizes, and shelves. You will never succeed if you aren't willing to persist. The road to publication is paved with rejection and criticism, so steel yourself before you drive it or you won't get very far. Thicken that skin, lace up your body armor, and plow head-first into the thick of your fears. Let failure roll off your back like water on a mallard's hide.
Hell, why not go one better? Treasure your failures. Keep every rejection letter you receive, not to remind yourself that you fell short, but as a token of your continued persistence. Every time you read the words "not quite for us," remember that you're the member of a select group of writers who got off their butts and conquered the fear of failure, one submission at a time. When acceptance finally comes (and it will, if you keep trying), you'll get to have yourself a celebratory bonfire if you'd like.
Me, I'm keeping mine. If I grow up to be a big famous author one day, I might even publish them. I think I'll call the book Persist, and dedicate it to the memory of Isaac Asimov.
Happy Independence Day. Welcome to Urf.