The Art of Perseverance

My guest blogger today is Gina Robinson, author of Spy Candy, who persevered, and is now a published author. Congratulations, Gina!

The Art of Perseverance
by Gina Robinson

With the release of my debut novel Spy Candy ( Zebra Romantic Suspense, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-0472-1)just weeks away, I’ve been asked to be a guest on a number of blogs. Because it took me years and years…and still more years to become published, talking about perseverance has become my theme. But as I was thinking about perseverance the other day, I realized that I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. To reach the goal of publication, a writer can’t give up. That’s true. Who knows when the call will finally come? But more than that, they can’t stay the same, either.

Persistence is not revising the same manuscript over and over and over, even when it’s been rejected all over New York. Persistence is also not stalking the same editor or agent from conference to conference, query to query, trying to sell them on that same tired old manuscript. Persistence isn’t trying to convince the world that you’ve written the next great bestseller and certain classic and berating the world when they don’t realize it. That’s insanity.

The art of perseverance requires growth. The writer must start a new manuscript, taking what’s been learned on the first and building on it to write a better novel, to discover their unique voice. The writer must look at the market objectively, broadening their search to include new agents, new editors, to take new chances.

Perseverance is a far greater thing than banging on the same door again and again. It’s believing in yourself, your own unique talents and skills, your worth as an individual, and your passion for storytelling. It’s writing for the sheer joy of it, even when it feels like publication will never happen. When you write for the joy of it, magic happens. You’ll feel passion, not frustration. And whether or not you’re lucky enough to ever publish, you’ll be content and have the drive to never give up on yourself. You will truly persevere.

Gina Robinson’s debut novel, Spy Candy, will be available everywhere books are sold on November 4, 2008.

The Fun of Writing: the Passion, the Puzzle

Blogging about writing is a way of focusing my thoughts. It might seem as if I’m obsessing about minor points or over thinking a scene, but for me that’s part of solving the writing puzzle. So many pieces need to fit together. What is really going on in the scene? What do the characters feel? What do they want? How does the scene fit with the rest of the story? Is it important? What am I trying to accomplish?

Most how-to books on writing suggest getting the first draft down as quickly as possible so that the passion shines through. This is good advice, and I would follow it if stories came easy to me, but they never do. I worried about this (for five minutes or so), wondering if my novels would feel dry and unemotional because I approach them as a puzzle, but the only difference between my way of writing and the so-called right way is that I do my thinking as I write rather than as I rewrite.

Is one way better than another? I don’t know, but if we accomplish what we set out to do, both the logical writers and the passionate ones can end up with interesting stories that will evoke emotions in our readers. In my case, during rewrites I get rid of much of the dryness that comes from the puzzle approach. In your case, perhaps, you lose some of that freewheeling passion when you organize what you have written into a more cohesive story.

We all have to find the best way to write. I am not condoning poor grammar, typographical errors, bad plotting, ignorance of story elements, or any of those other rules that new writers rail against. I’m talking about the fun of writing, the passion, the puzzle.

Samuel Johnson remarked, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” I guess that makes most of us blockheads, because we write knowing that except for a select group, there is little money to be made from writing. We need other reasons for spending so much time bleeding words.

For me, it’s the puzzle. As frustrating as it gets, I love figuring out plots, character’s motives, new ways of presenting common thoughts. Beats crossword puzzles any day.