Saturday, September 1, 2007

What My Paper Shredder Taught Me

Within five minutes of plugging in my schmick new paper shredder, I found myself grappling with a tremendous, clumpy jam to end all jams. I don’t know how it happened. Even though the shredder can withstand eight sheets of paper at a time, I fed it five. The instruction manual read, “In the UNLIKELY event of a jam, select reverse.” Very funny. Reverse gear did not help. Ditto for thumping, jerking and wailing. One thing I was not going to do was give up, because I wanted to see the job through. Plus, I loathe taking things back to the store when they don’t work.

Two solid hours and a tub of chocolate mousse later (I’m on a soft-food diet whilst recovering from wisdom tooth extraction), I cleared the machine, using essential writer’s tools like blunt scissors and a jumbo paperclip. I’m back to shredding copies of my first [appalling] ms into neat ribbons.

This seemingly insignificant victory made me think about persistence in the publishing world. When you put your best work out there for submission and get rejections in return, it can bite into your confidence. My good friend and critter Anna Campbell has an article in this month’s RWA Romance Writers Report about writing for the long haul. She interviewed a number of authors who spent ten years or more trying to get published. Anna herself landed a deal 27 years after finishing her first manuscript. She and countless other pubbed authors did not give up. Common threads between these writers? Talent, hard work, a great story, a little bit of luck and a lot of persistence.

Long before Madonna branched out into children’s books, she said, “If you can’t say ‘I’ll die if I don’t do it,’ you shouldn’t do it.” And that’s what I think about when people tell me they’d like to write/publish a book but [insert 1,000 excuses here]. You’ve got to have that drive to keep going. Do not select reverse or neutral. Just think, the more rejections you get, the better you’ll feel when you actually do get a deal, right?

In other news...
The lovely Sara Hantz is celebrating the release of her first book with a blog party. Yay! Post a comment and you could win stuff.


Anna Campbell said...

Hey, great blog! And thanks for the plug for the article. I got some really great quotes from people - made me want to stand up and cheer! Love the analogy between the jammed shredder that will not jam and life as a writer. How true! And the friends you make on the way are the chocolate mousse that keep you going!

Authorness said...

Aw, thanks, mate. That means you're my inspiration AND my virtual chocolate mousse.