I think one of the biggest problems we writers have is giving up too soon on a writing project that is close to our heart. It's often easier to step away from that beloved project after several rejections or running into a brick wall when seeking an agent or never placing in a contest with a piece that you know is darned good. Book or short story, memoir or personal essay--it's worth persisting.
Last week at my writing conference, I looked around the room at the talented women gathered there. Several had books published; others were published in journals, magazines, newspapers and online. One, whose book had just been released, spoke to us about her publishing journey. Over and over again, she was met with defeat when trying to get her memoir with an agent or publisher. Many, many times! She pursued her dream, despite the negatives she'd encountered. Finally, a publishing company came back with a positive response and she was off and running through the forest of the publishing world. Was it all smooth? No. But she persisted, agreed to certain changes in her book (including the title and some rewriting) and her longtime dream was realized.
She never stopped believing in herself. That's so important that I'm going to say it again in bold. She never stopped believing in herself.
I fear too many of us give up long before we reach our goal. The harder road is to continue looking for a publisher. We wonder why we would willingly put ourselves through such punishment. If we believe in our project, we'll do it. Every time we get knocked down with a rejection, we need to stand up, brush ourself off and move on to the next place on our list to submit to or query.
So, what about the writer who does not believe in him/herself and the project? They are the ones who will put it away in a file and spend many moments wishing things had gone differently but not willing to take a new approach. Ask yourself How much do I believe in what I am doing? Be honest when answering that question and you'll know whether you should continue your journey to see your work published.
Whenever you see a bird perched on a branch, think about the poster quote above. The bird believes and so can you.