Monday, January 20, 2014

The "P" Factor

Cover of notebook I've used for 20 years.

            I collected 600 rejections over seven years before I sold my first short story to an anthology.  What!?  Isn’t that a little extreme?  Even crazy?  Maybe so, but I’ve discovered that good writers are a dime a dozen.  I’ve known several writers much more talented than I am, but they will never be published.  Why?  They have writing ability, but a rejection letter shatters their confidence.
            What enables creative people to continue when faced with seemingly impossible obstacles to their goals?  What distinguishes the writers who try again and again from those who give up?  Just one thing:  The “P” factor.
            Do you have the “P” factor?  Do you have persistence above and beyond common sense?  Do you have the courage necessary to persevere as a writer when the odds of publication seem stacked against you?
To persist means “to continue steadily or firmly . . .in spite of opposition.”  It’s difficult enough to persevere when there is no opposition.  Persistence becomes nearly impossible when we receive rejection after rejection.  We’ve squeezed out those words from the secret places of our soul.  We’ve had the courage to send our precious works into the turbulent world of publishing.  Despite our diligent efforts at marketing research, editors move from house to house, and publishers cut back their lists or go out of business.  Who can possibly foresee that an editor has just mailed a contract to another writer for a book on a similar topic as your manuscript?
            That’s why the “P” factor is so important!  It’s the only way to work past rejection. A rejection slip reflects one person’s opinion about your writing.  Remember, opinions are subjective.  Do you read every kind of book in print?  Certain genres and topics thrill you and others don’t, right?  What one editor hates, another will love. 
The only “secret” to getting published is to work diligently at the craft, and once you’re satisfied that your manuscript is the best it can be, submit and keep submitting.  Create, revise, submit.  If rejected, submit again.  Don’t just wait for a reply; keep creating, revising, submitting.  That’s perseverance!  Life is too short to put all your hopes on one project, or on one editor. 
Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”  How long have you “perspired”?  If you’re honestly striving to perfect your art, then writing is hard work.  Most of us want to share our work with others, hence the desire for publication.  But no rejection should take away our joy in the process of creation.  If we can’t find pleasure in the act of writing, then we should look for another outlet for our creativity that brings us contentment.
Publishers call what we create “products,” as if a beloved character is nothing more than a used Prius!  That’s why it’s so important to find our greatest satisfaction in the creative process.  When we have faith in ourselves and in what we have created, we can grow in tenacity to persevere in the face of rejection after rejection after rejection. 
The publishing world is no place for the timid.  Believe in yourself!  Be bold!  Be very courageous!  Abraham Lincoln said, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”
If you’re reading this article, you are seeing evidence of my persistence.  I can now say that I’ve published five books and hundreds of articles and short stories.  Is it getting easier?  No.  In some ways rejection hurts even more now than in the beginning, because I research publishers so carefully.  But the “P” factor is my choice, and that has proven to be an opportunity to grow in strength of will and character. 
If you believe in your writing, why not choose persistence? 

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