Peter Benchley was a reporter at the Washington Post, an editor for Newsweek. He was a speech writer for President Johnson, and in 1971 he was just barely making ends meet as a freelance writer supporting a family. Even with his impressive background, he was ready to give up. The story goes that he took a long walk on the beach and thought about what he could do if he gave up. He looked out of the waters. His mind wandered. He recalled a story about a massive great white shark being caught off the east coast years back. The wheels in his mind turned…
Dean Koontz always wanted to be a writer but he took on a practical occupation out of college. He hated it and spent his free time writing. Leaving the job for a better one did not quell the urge or slow him down. He continued to spend his nights and weekends writing novels. Finally his wife offered him five years to devote his time to his writing while she was the bread winner. By the time those five years were up, she was working for him.
Kathryn Stockett was a working in publishing in New York and penning a novel that burned within her based on her upbringing in Mississippi. The novel took her five years to write and when she finally finished it, no body wanted it. Rejection after rejection poured in, even with her credentials and connections to the industry. Every time she got knocked down, she went back to the manuscript and refined it a little more. After sixty rejections, an agent finally agreed to represent her and her book “The Help”.
What do these three authors have in common? Aside from their ridiculous success? Aside from their indisputable talent? They pursued their career with all they had, all in different ways. They believed they could do it and didn’t let doubt paralyze them. It didn’t happen for them quickly. They had great ideas and they perfected them.
So if you are having a bad day, if you are punching away a job you hate to pay the bills while you write your novel, or fighting off writers block, if you are being beaten down by rejection after rejection, please do not give up. If it helps, set a goal but that means you have to use that time to give it all you have.
There are more opportunities for writers today than ever before. There are more venues to explore to get your work out there than you may ever be aware of. Keep trying, keep refining, keep querying, keep editing. There is no deadline for greatness.