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I’m not a Pollyanna. True to an Aquarian born in the year of the Dragon, I’m incredibly impatient, impulsive, emotional, irrational and irritable. And those are my good points. But with that said, I’ve learned to hang tough. I write those words to my friends struggling to sell, struggling to believe, struggling to hang in there, and I don’t write it lightly, and I never say it carelessly. But if we want to make it, we have to dig in, hang on, and hang tight.
Some writers sell easily. Some writers write easily. And there are those of us who have to claw our way to the top and I don’t mean by clawing over each other, but by clawing up, like a rock climber, hand over fist, inching our way up the impossible vertical slope, grappling with the cliff as though our life depended on it. And in a way, our lives do depend on it, our writing lives.
We as writers have to be willing to take risks. We have to be willing to strike out on our own. We have to write what we hear in our heads (yes, those little voices are real and valuable). We have to write what we believe in our hearts. And we have to write all this and make it true, make it beautiful, and make it fit the publishing parameters.
That’s right. We are artists AND businesswomen and in our line of work we can’t separate the two, because frankly, we’re not writing for vanity press. We’re writing to sell. Most of us want to make money writing. We want careers as writers and we want to find our right niche.
Climbing the vertical slope to publishing can be miserable. It’s exhausting, physically and emotionally. It’s challenging. It’s disappointing. So pick your climbing partners carefully. My real writer friends are all smart and funny, tough, honest, and more than a little gritty. They want to write and they want to succeed and they won’t accept no. Rejection isn’t going to be tolerated. A rejection becomes a fresh challenge, a new perspective. It’s the opportunity for growth, the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to succeed.
I don’t know one serious writer who doesn’t get bummed out or burned out. But the serious writer doesn’t walk away from the craft or the challenge. The serious writer reaches deep inside, finds the courage, renews the vision, and taps into the heart. We write romance because we believe in the spirit of man and the miracle of love. We write romance because we understand what it is to struggle and we relish victory after a hard-fought battle. We write romance because we crave happy endings.
If our heroes and heroines can win, so can we. If our heroes and heroines deserve happiness, so do we. If our heroes and heroines persevere, so shall we.
Success can be defined in many ways, but we’re all successful if we refuse to quit, refuse to fail, refuse to accept second best. Attitude in this business is everything. Those who look forward, those who challenge themselves, those who don’t make excuses, those who believe, will succeed.
Surround yourself with positive friends. Turn a deaf ear to the doubters and naysayers. Ignore dismal market statistics (the market is always tight!). Throw away painful rejection letters or contest critiques. Delete emails that hurt. Get off loops that undermine your confidence. In short, be your own best friend. Protect your self, nurture your dream, focus your energy.
It took me nearly twelve years and ten rejected books with thirty something rejection letters before I finally got my first sale. A month later, I had a second sale, and two months after that, a third. They were all new books, the second two written between February and May when I tapped my reservoir of courage and pounded out those new books by writing, writing, writing.
Where did I get all that confidence from? Twelve years writing, ten rejected books, and thirty something rejection letters. I’ve learned to turn the rejections into challenges, view returned manuscript as a tool to growth, consider my decade plus of writing as a “graduate romance writing school” and pat myself on the back for keeping at it. The more it seemed I wouldn’t sell, the more confident I became that I would. Why? Because I’ve become tough, and I’ve learned to hang tough.
Remember attitude in this business is everything. Hard work pays off. Positive thinking is essential, as is sheer grit. Don’t ever give up. Don’t quit. Don’t stop believing in yourself. Real writers hang tough.