Monday, November 7, 2011

Perseverance Beats Talent... Most of the Time

I'm at a stage in my writing career where it's easy to forget what it was like starting out. Back then it seemed almost impossible.

There were thirty-four students in my high school freshman class. (A seminary. All boys.) By the time graduation rolled around there were only twelve of us. Some left voluntarily, deciding this wasn't the right spot for them. Others were... invited to leave.

All twelve graduates went on to professional careers. (Two were ordained.) And among those twelve there were some good writers. As talented as any seventeen- or eighteen-year-old can be. So why am I the one with a string of published books going back decades?

Part of the answer is the idea of a "vocation." A person is called to do what he or she loves to do and is good at doing. And by doing it over a long period of time, gets better at it.

When I left the seminary after my sophomore year in college I began taking classes in short story writing and novel writing at the University of Washington. After I graduated from U.W. I continued to write novels. To complete novels. To get better at writing and completing novels.

I don't mention this to brag. There's nothing to brag about. Some classmates did the same in the field of theology or law or counseling. They studied, they learned, they worked.

It takes work to become a priest, a lawyer, a counselor.

To become a writer.

To become a better writer.

To become a published writer.

I'll say to you what I would say to myself during some of those long years of not getting published, no matter how hard I tried: "I can't guarantee that I'll succeed but if I quit now I can guarantee that I fail."

Just keep writing!

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