The Few, the Proud, the Stubborn

First of all, congratulations to Leaguer Jeanne Stein for the release of the Anna Strong #7 book, Crossroads. I've known Jeanne for years a long time, and I've seen her persevere in the frustrating and tortuous path to get published. She came close to giving up, and even when she strapped herself back to the yoke, it still took a while before anything positive happened. Jeanne exemplified the supreme toughness it takes to make it was a writer.

If you're a young American male, the standard for toughness is a Navy SEAL. But if you think it's tough to be a SEAL, then try being a published writer, specifically a novelist. It's hard to compare success rates, since the weeding-out process for SEALs and writers starts early. So I'm guessing for SEALs, maybe 10% of the wannabes actually get to wear the coveted Trident insignia.

10%! That's gravy compared to being a novelist. Literary agents get hundreds of queries a week. Maybe they respond favorably to one in two hundred. Of those, maybe one in five gets the nod. So, at this point, it's one in a thousand. And even if you get agent representation, you're still not golden. Getting published is that iffy. Maybe one in two agent pitches ends up with a publishing deal.

There is a curriculum to becoming a SEAL (or a Ranger, Green Beret, fighter pilot). Step 1, Step 2, and so on. Granted, it's not easy.

The big difference between success to becoming a SEAL and a novelist (aside from the physical agony and the attention of merciless instructors) is that becoming an author is so open-ended. There are no guarantees. You can take endless creative writing courses, participate in critique groups for years, have all kinds of writing credentials, and yet, nada. There is no diploma you can hang that says, Published Author. (Well you can, but it wouldn't mean anything.) Being a Published Author happens when it happens.

In one of his vlogs, Leaguer Mark Henry talks about the mental toughness it takes to succeed as a writer. The rejection. The frustration. The hacking at a story you hope will get published. The anxiety that you've tried your best and yet...your manuscript is dismissed as another steaming pile of words.

If you quit, it ain't the end of the world. The fate of civilization does not hang in the balance of whether your work-in-progress makes it the printing press.

But you keep at it, never giving up, until you are one of the persistent White Trash Zombie author and fellow Leaguer Diana Rowland and her Creepy Doll.


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