There are some sayings, some mindsets that are valuable, instructive, or just plain funny. Here’s mine for today:
This saying is attributed to George Player, a South African golfer, and it’s one that I and my family truly believe in. You can blame Rachael Johns for this post, as we were discussing this very thing recently, and to an extent laughing at our own naiveté with our twenty-twenty hindsight goggles.
If you want to accomplish something, if you want to succeed at something, then you are going to have to work hard for it.
When I started writing, I desperately wanted to be a successful author. I had visions of my success – not least of which was walking on the red carpet for the film adaptation of one of my novels, and having a cleaner – a cleaner, I tell you. I could pay someone to scrub my dunny.
There is nothing so frustrating, though, as to have a dream, and then expect it to happen – only it doesn’t. Even when it seems within touching distance. When you’re sending off manuscripts, and you’re getting rejections – and I’m not talking ‘we loved X, Y, and Z of your story, we just don’t think it’s a good fit for us at this time’ kind of rejection. No, I’m talking that little slip (they’re not even going to waste a full letter-length piece of paper on you!) that has a polite, uniform message on it that you hope was at one stage touched by a person, but you’re not sure…
It’s frustrating when you see others who started writing at the same time as you receive their first contract, who attended their first writer’s conference with you, achieve the success you want for yourself (and yes, we are most pleased for our successful writing colleagues, but it still chafes like the blazes, let’s be honest).
It’s frustrating, and it’s so tempting to jump the gun, to dive into that self-publishing pool, and swim, because we know, damn it, that the writer inside us is bursting to be read.
- Let me be clear – I’m not dissing self-publishing, or authors who self-publish, or those who are considering that route. I’m self-published. I think it’s a fantastic medium – and guess what, it’s also a lot of hard work. I love the concept, and some authors do it, and do it brilliantly, so no dissing self-publishing here.
At my first RWA conference in Brisbane, one author, C.C. Coburn, stood up, because there were a lot of folks, like me, who believed they were writers just bursting to be read, and were considering options because, hell, they deserved to be successful after all the work and effort they’d put into their writing, and she made a comment that has always stuck with me.
“You need to earn your stripes.”
She went on to say that those authors we admire, and who we all aspire to be, they worked HARD. Nobody was an overnight success. They learned their craft. They got rejected (or not), but each and every one of them worked on their craft, improved it, honed it, and that’s how they go to be so ‘lucky’. So each time I don’t immediately succeed, or if things don’t pan out the way I’d hoped, I think to myself, ‘this is me earning my stripes’.
So, for those who desperately want something – whether it’s a publishing contract, or great marks, a university degree, a six-figure salary, or world peace, hang in there. There is a path for you to walk, a journey you must undertake. Every rejection, every knock back, every failure, gives you the experience and lessons that prepare you for your greatness. Work hard. Get lucky.
What are you working hard towards? Feel free to share, no judgement here!