Wednesday, August 26, 2009

P Words

Being a writer, I am a conoisseur of words. There are so many of them that I like to see, write, or say. Maybe it's the internal alliteration of some, the rolling syllables, the way the letters look--who knows why some words appeal more than others? But today, let's look at two words that begin with the letter P that are of utmost importance to all writers who are aiming for publication.

Patience and Perseverance are keywords for a lot of things, but especially so for writers.

Let's look at Patience first. You finish a story or essay that you're satisfied with, maybe even deleriously happy about. The next step is to find a market which takes some time and effort. Once you decide on a place to submit this piece de resistance and send it flying across cyberspace or through the snail mail avenue, the first P comes into the picture. Rarely does an editor respond in a hurry. Not unless they're desparate to fill a few pages of their publication and your story arrives at the exact moment they need it. Odds are that's going to happen once or twice in a career. Waiting to hear from an editor feels to me like a test for my Patience level. Believe me, I've scored very low on some of them, as I use to get pretty antsy waiting to hear if my story was accepted or rejected.

The best thing to do is send it and forget it. Maybe not really forget it, but put it in the back file drawer of your mind and move on to the next project. Eventually, you'll hear from most editors. There are always a few who never contact you or wait two years to do so, as just happened to a writer friend recently. I've always been a rather impatient person. I like to have things done and tied up neatly, but in my writing world, that seldom happens. The positive spin I put on this is that I've learned to be more patient since becoming a writer.

The other keyword is Perseverance. In a perfect world, we would write a story, send it to one editor, and cash the check she sends the next week. In the real world, a story might be sent to editors of several publications before it's purchased for publication. If your submission comes flying back to you with a form rejection letter, forget the pity party. Send it to the next one on your list. (You do have a list of places to submit to, don't you?) If it comes back three times, take a good, hard look at the piece and ask yourself what you can do to improve it? Then send it to the fourth place on your list. Odds are that you'll eventually find an editor who wants your story, and if not, you know you've persisted until there are no more options. Time to move on to another story or essay and begin the process all over again. Sound like work? It definitely is, but the rewards are great when you see your words in print.

When discouragement threatens to take over your writing life, keep the keywords in mind--Patience and Persevrance.

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