OK – so if you've mastered (or just laughed yourself silly at) Lesson 1 – Patience, then this one shouldn't be too hard.
Lesson 2 – It's All About Persistence
This is easy to say and it's a well-worn phrase that ‘persistence pays' so I'm sorry if this sounds trite, but this is something I've come to believe in.
And I'm not even talking about the kind of persistence that is needed to write a best-seller or to make a long-term career as a writer. I'm just dealing with the everyday persistence needed to make a half-decent job of a single piece of work.
Writing and self-publishing, and probably all creative acts (though I can't speak for the Extreme Origami enthusiasts amongst you) is riddled with self-doubt, despair and caffeine addiction. You need something to pull you through those troughs and push you up the hills. And that thing, that magic ingredient is persistence.
It's the difference between a published novel and a dog-eared, half-finished manuscript in a shoebox under the bed. And yes, I've checked, and the shoebox under the bed is the mandatory storage facility for forgotten dreams. Talk about the Nanny State.
Persistence is also the difference between the best work you could possibly produce, and the misbegotten, typo-filled and cliche-ridden MS that you really shouldn't have published.
We all get to the stage where we finish a pass through the manuscript and quite frankly, you'd rather have a poke in the eye than sit down and go through it all again. That's fine. It just means you need a break from it. But that doesn't mean a break from writing. Start a side project or two. Maybe work on some short stories, a serial, a poem or experiment with something from a different genre and aimed at a different audience.
Then, when you're feeling fresher, persist with your work. Polish it, scrub it, imagine that all your favourite authors are coming round for tea and biscuits and you have to have it good enough to show them.
A lot of people trot out the, “writing is rewriting” quote, but that always seems a bit bleak to me. I've come to see that writing is many things, and one of those things is editing. And boy, editing needs persistence.
I've read somewhere that many great sculptors had the basic shape carved out for them by assistants. The master would then step in and carve that crucial last inch or two. And in that final carving, the beauty of their creations emerged. For me, this sums up the editing process; the slow, precise chipping away and adjustment that will let us all appreciate the original vision of the piece.
So persist people. And if you possibly can, learn to love it.
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