- Books, Literature, and Writing
Writing Requires Patience
Words to Live By
Instant gratification! We live in a world that almost demands it. We have 150 cable channels so that we can become instantly gratified. We have fast food restaurants so that our hunger is instantly sated. We have quicky weddings in Vegas and we have drive-through grocery shopping.
As we are stumbling our way through kindergarten we continue to collect our gold stars, and as the years roll on the gold stars becomes stock options and bonuses, rebates and special discounts, all designed to give us some instant gratification and keep us moving forward, good little worker bees providing for society.
But what of the writer? How do the writers of the world find instant gratification? Where is the pat on the head for the writer who has labored twelve months in obscurity over their non-fiction book? Where is the monetary reward for the article writer who is not read?
As the days become weeks and the weeks, months, and still there is no recognition, where does the writer turn for the motivation needed to carry on the fight?
For the writers of the world, this one’s for you.
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But My Views Are Down!
How many times have I received an email from another writer bemoaning the fact that their views are down on the writer’s site HubPages? If I had a dollar for every time that has happened I could finally retire. J
The reality of writing is that there will be good days and bad. There will be times when your articles will be read by one and all, and there will be times when it appears that nobody in this world of seven billion is interested in what you have written.
Be patient! Work harder!
The Great Pyramid of Giza took between ten and twenty years to construct. As a writer, I am constructing my own great pyramid. I am doing it word by word, sentence by sentence, article by article. I am building my reputation as a writer and it is a slow and at times agonizing process, but it is one I am dedicated to and determined to complete.
But I Can’t Find a Publisher!
J.D. Salinger was born in 1919. He began writing in high school, at the age of sixteen. In 1951 his novel “Catcher In The Rye” was published. Sixteen years of perfecting his craft finally led to success. Sixteen years!
I have written before of Steinbeck, Harper Lee and Hemingway. All struggled with their writing and all found it practically impossible to find a publisher who was willing to take a chance on their books. Today they are recognized as greats, but that recognition did not happen overnight. For years they labored and for years they received no gratification, instant or otherwise.
They all realized that writing is a difficult undertaking on the best of days, and on the worst of days it is a profound lesson in humility.
They also realized something that all of you need to come to grips with: there are no guarantees in the writing business. The stars of the universe must align perfectly in order for monetary success to be found. The gods of language must smile down upon you and your work, and the heavens must open their gates and allow you to walk among the immortals…..and….that may never happen.
So Why Do We Bother at All?
As writers today we live in interesting times. The internet has made it possible for mediocre writers to earn a living and gain a byline, but still there are millions of talented writers who never see the brass ring of success let alone grab it. Publishing houses are cutting back on acceptance of work by new writers. The printed book has been pushed aside by the ebook, and the old rules of publication no longer ring true. I feel safe in stating that it is much harder to be published in the traditional way today than it was fifty years ago, and it will be harder still next year.
With such a glut of writers the pay scale for articles is lower. Supply and Demand, that economic albatross we all live with, has driven the price down for written works, and hundreds of thousands of online writers have created an online marketplace where competition is fierce and it is quite possible to drown in a sea of overabundance.
So why do we bother at all?
There Is No One Answer Fits All
I can only write my thoughts. I can only tell you what is in my mind and heart with regards to writing.
I may or may not be unique in my understanding that I may never find monetary success. I have seen the figures and I know the odds, and quite frankly they are daunting and discouraging. Perhaps a wiser man would walk away from the computer and retire to his garden to find peace and serenity.
Evidently I am not a wiser man, for day in and day out I am here, sitting in front of my Gateway, building my own personal pyramid. I pay no attention to the number of views I receive because I have my sights set on larger goals. I pay no attention to the number of rejection slips I receive other than to consider them a learning tool as I place one more stone on the great structure of my dreams.
I am not immune to the siren song of fame and fortune, and I would certainly not turn down a hefty advance payment on my next book, but my passion for writing is not based on possible monetary gain.
Ray Bradbury on writing
The Immortality of Words
A few months ago I realized an important truth. I was thinking of Harper Lee, the brilliant author of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and the fact that she never wrote another book after publishing her classic in 1960. For the past fifty-three years her masterpiece has lived on, read by millions each year, a legacy that will survive forever.
And I realized that the same is true for me.
One hundred years from now, someone will read my words written today. They will be doing a Google search and come across some article I wrote about H.O.W., and my legacy will live on.
One hundred years from now, someone will find one of my novels on a bookshelf in Louisiana, and my legacy will live on.
One hundred years from now, someone will come across a phrase I coined, PIPO (positive in/positive out), and my legacy will live on.
And I find that remarkable and oh so encouraging.
What I write today will last forever. My work is my immortality, and how many out there can say those words?
Writing, for me, is a higher calling. It has taken the place of teaching for me, and I embrace it with the same enthusiasm and determination that I once took into the classroom with me. Where once I tried to instill minds with wonder, I now try to build sentences that will inspire and call to action. Where once I attempted to educate, I now try to motivate.
I cannot be deterred when my numbers are down. I cannot be detoured when publishers or agents or editors are not enamored with my writing. No matter what happens in my literary future, my words will live on.
So I am patient, and you should be too.
Are you a patient writer?
What Do You Want?
It comes down to that. If you want a pittance of passive income, then start writing and the pennies will start flowing in shortly. If you want more than a pittance then perfect your craft and improve your product.
If you want fame and fortune and recognition, keep working hard, be patient, but also be realistic. That three-headed creature of literary greatness does not visit every writer.
If, however, you seek to establish your legacy….if you hope to leave a part of yourself in the world long after you are gone….you need not be patient. You have already achieved your goal.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)