Patience—The hardest part of being a writer is having patience—the continuous effort and courage in the face of success, failure, rejection, and long stretches of time waiting for positive results.
Patience in the face of success: In 2012 I was thrilled to have an essay I’d written about how I met my husband published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game. For the first time, a story I’d written was published in a book that was actually on the shelves of all the major bookstore and independents. Once you are published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, you become part of the “family.” They put you on the email list for the private newsletter only provided to contributors. They let you know what themed books they’ll be producing to encourage you to submit additional stories. Which is what I did. I enthusiastically submitted stories to probably a half dozen of the upcoming themed anthologies and they were all rejected! After tasting the sweet victory, it was that much harder to accept the defeat.
Patience in the face of trying to get a publishing contract: I began my effort to get a literary agent to represent me for The Talking Drum in 2010. I must have reached out to 20 or 30 agents. Some seemed to like my initial writing sample and asked for more pages, which was encouraging, but then they would let me know that they were passing on the project. Sensing that I would make no progress this way, I began reaching out to small presses. A few years into this pursuit, I had gotten no significant nibble. Then, at the AWP Writer’s Conference, I introduced myself to a publisher who was interested in my manuscript and signed me to a contract.
Patience with people who think I can help them: Sometimes when I’m at a social event I feel hesitant to let people know that I’m writer. There’s always the chance that they’ll want me to read something they’ve written or help me with their writing in general. What they don’t understand is that I may not have time to help them and I may not actually be the right person to help them. It requires patience to diplomatically discourage people from seeking my help.
Patience to find the write support system: I’ve taken a lot of writing classes, met with different writing groups and after years found a group called South Shore Scribes that met in my neighborhood that was the right fit for me. The group was small enough that just about all of us got to read pages during our meetings and I got the kind of feedback I needed to keep revising The Talking Drum to make it a more salable manuscript.
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