On Writing: Perseverance

My guest today, Steven Clark Bradley, has been to or lived in 34 countries, including Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey. He has a master’s degree in liberal studies from Indiana University. He speaks French and Turkish. He has been an assistant to a prosecutor, a university instructor and a freelance journalist. Bradley is the author of four novels, including Patriot Acts. Bradley says:

I have always been a storyteller. It seems to have been something I was born with. It was actually my son who challenged to stop writing as a hobby and to start publishing my several manuscripts I had written. As a child, I started writing dreams and ideas and it was all part of the process of learning how to paint a tableau with words. Probably the hardest thing was learning to get over what I call ‘the middle of the book’ syndrome. Perseverance is one word that best describes the main character trait that all dedicated writers possess. I can attest to that as I developed the characters, setting, atmosphere and all the million things that go into holding a story together.

Winston Churchill said, “The Pessimist sees problems in every opportunity, but the Optimist sees opportunities in every problem” Once we get into the middle of a novel, we need to get over the hump of taking the story to the next level by pouring ourselves into it. Sometimes, when we find ourselves wanting to quit something, we feel pulled in two directions. Have you ever heard these voices in your head? “There’s no use in continuing!” or perhaps “I have failed and I give up!” These feelings are almost always untrue and are usually caused by depression, fatigue or loneliness. There are so many other personal things in our lives that cause such feelings of hopelessness. We are also drawn by voices in our heads that tell us not to give up. “Think of all the time you’ve invested!” or “Think how hard you have worked!” It’s that second voice that helps you continue on and is what I call “Wise Perseverance.”

To wisely persevere, you need to see the costs or difficulties and benefits or positives of what you are doing. An honest and good decision requires honest and good information. The more you understand yourself, the more certain you will be about your decisions and the more likely you will find the strength to persevere until the story starts to write itself. Some call that this “Literary Critical Mass” when the story becomes a living thing and logic flows and literary inertia seem to take over. Actually, this drive makes all of the characters come alive so that eventual readers will become one with the story until you accomplish your task! All of this serves to develop your own writing style and makes you unique and singular in your message. You’ll probably find that you’re having more fun than you actually thought you would!

I can say that each novel feels like another one of my literary children was born. All the hard work, all the revisions, the TLC that goes into making it powerful and readable and clear, expressive and addictive to the reader comes together when it sits in my hand. The greatest thing is to finally read it in book form and I forget that I am the writer and loving it. It is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. My novel, Nimrod Rising represented more than 12 years of hard work. There is no feeling like that.

See also:
Interview with Steven Clark Bradley
Steven Clark Bradley reviews Pat Bertram’s novel More Deaths Than One

6 Responses to “On Writing: Perseverance”

  1. Rod Marsden Says:

    I have always looked up to writers. I have met quite a few born story-tellers. To keep going I think you need good friends and an understanding and helpful editor. I agree with you that you should enjoy the process otherwise why should the reader enjoy your writing. I am not one of the hair shirt brigade of writers who feel you must suffer for your art. Think about and rework your stuff when need be but suffer? Forget it! I have been to a few writers’ conferences where they do nothing but beat each other up like medieval flogging monks and think they are doing good work that way. I find moving on from your soon to be published book into a new book with new challanges sometimes hard.

  2. Susan Whitfield Says:

    Steven, I enjoyed your interview, and I, too, understand the need to persevere until the book takes over and writes itself, a magnificent feeling! I usually have two novels going at once, for some reason a need of mine. I congratulate you on Patriot Acts. Continued success in all endeavors!

  3. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Thanks Steven. I enjoyed this article. And thanks Pat.

    BTW. I’m now reading A Spark of Heavenly Fire and loving it! Many thanks to you and Second Wind.

  4. amydetrempe Says:

    Great article. I like to think of the “middle of the book” syndrome as a speed bump. You may need to slow down to get over it, but you will get over it and pick up speed once again.

  5. Steven Clark Bradley Says:

    You are all such great writers yourselves. I learn so much from all of you. Can you believe that my internet was down until this morning! I was so happy to read all the great material here. I am right in the middle now, or should I say, a transitional section of my next novel. It is challenging, because the transitions will either keep the story alive to the end or can cause it to fall flat. That is when we have to be patient and not just write to feel good. I think it is the toughest thing in writing, but, a peaceful heart, good discipline, loving what you are writing and making ourselves come into the story helps me to persevere. That is what separates hobbyists and devoted writers. – Steven

  6. Avah LaReaux Says:

    Excellent article. I enjoy reading what other authors have to say about our craft. For me, it is like studying fine art and becoming one with all of the intricacies of the piece. Articles like this one are also therapy and help me to draw on the Wise Perseverance that sometimes gets lost in life situations. I appreciate authors who take time to share and minister (scary word, I know) to their colleagues. It often means more to us than you know. Thank you Steven and Pat.

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