One of my all-time favorite movies is Galaxy Quest. It’s a sharply funny spoof of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Star Trek. I love the internal theme of Galaxy Quest, too: “Never give up, never surrender.”
Whether it’s overcoming aliens or human foes or personal hurdles, it’s a great motto.
What is Persistence?
When I started writing for children, I already had a lot of rejections for stuff I’d written for adult readers. Two full novels (I had no idea what I was doing), fifteen short stories, and a ton of poetry. My first small triumphs were two short stories and one poem, all accepted for publication in literary journals…though one of those folded the month before my story was to print.
Then I found writing for children, but more importantly I found support. Education. Colleagues and publishing knowledge. This started with my membership in SCBWI, and continued as I went to conferences and workshops, as I worked with critique partners, as I studied craft books back to front, and finally as I went back to school for my MFA.
And I amassed a boatload of rejection slips.
My Rejection Drawer
Actually, a drawerful of rejection slips. I had an empty desk drawer and I made myself a promise. I would keep trying to get published until the rejection slips (they were paper back in the day) filled it so full I couldn’t close it.
I would not give up.
I’m convinced that there is one thing more important than talent, more important than imagination, more important than connections or even than luck in getting your stories out into the world.
Persistence is the key to success in publishing. Actually, I think it’s pretty much the key to success in any endeavor, but this is the one I’m certain of.
Do Not Give Up
I believe that if you work hard, study the craft, and make it your business to understand the business of writing and publishing, you will achieve success. I believe that if you persist you can succeed. I swear that on my growing stack of published books.
And I encourage you to find help along the way. Truly, read craft books. Read stories in your genre and age range. Go to conferences and workshops. Join SCBWI, or any of the other writer organizations.
If you want to learn at an accelerated pace, I’m writing a masterclass curriculum now, on writing the middle grade or young adult novel, and will also host smaller workshops on writing kidlit in the not too distant future. Get on my mailing list at no obligation and I’ll keep you posted.
Never give up, never surrender!