This week my author copies of A Writer’s Guide to Persistence arrived in the mail and with them, that surreal bewilderment of time having sped up so fast that it felt as though I had jumped into the future in a blink. Wasn’t I just dreaming up the idea as a series of journal entries and blog posts meant to cheer myself out of a funk? Hadn’t I just gotten the news from Writer’s Digest Books that they would buy this idea borne out of hope and joy? Wasn’t I just plunking out the first draft, knuckling through the revision?
Yes. Yes. And yes.
This book’s birth has felt so fast, and frankly so easy because I undertook the whole process with little pressure on myself to succeed. Until I actually had a contract, I had no timeline, no one to please, no one to prove myself to. And even after the contract, I still felt unhurried; this book arose from a place of love, from an investigation of whether or not I was still a writer after three intense years of new motherhood. In those years I wasn’t sure I would ever have a writing practice again. I followed the poet Rainier Maria Rilke’s advice given to Young Mr. Kappus in Letters to a Young Poet:
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity….”
Yes, I heard myself think. I must. I will.
Because I want to. Just that: because I want to. Because it’s what I love to do. That answer shifted me out of this funk I’d been in for over a year. It reminded me: You don’t have to write prize winning works. You don’t have to be published (though that is nice). You can write because it makes you happy.
And before you think I’m getting on a high horse telling you how easy it was, let me reassure you that is NOT my normal process. I’ve spent a great portion of my writing life seeking praise and validation. Barreling toward an outcome with stress and anxiety with very little to show for it. The results come when I follow a train of desire, of purpose, of wanting.
This book is one of a very few that I wrote to please myself. And also, to do what I like to do best: to cheer you on, my fellow writers. It’s so easy to be discouraged. For one muckity-muck in the Upper Echelons of Publishing to tell you that you aren’t good enough or that you aren’t working hard enough. The road to success is paved with naysayers, trolls and agents of discouragement. You have to fight your way past them. Knock them to the side. Dance on by.
Persistence is everything. It’s just a word but it encapsulates a universe of meaning. Persistence comes when you give yourself permission, when you find passion, when you commit, when you make a practice of your writing. Persistence will help you to whatever finish line you have in mind.
And that’s what my book is about, and I hope you will love it as much as I loved writing it. I hope it will be like a friend with a flashlight who comes to find you when you’re lost in the woods. A friend who pushes you up the hill.
You may buy it from all fine online retailers. The quickest way to get it is to order through the Writer’s Digest Shop. But of course, all other online retailers and fine bookstores also will have it.