Perseverance and Publishing
My love of music started when I was very young. But singing “Do Wah Diddy” with my dad at the top of my lungs wasn’t enough. Listening to Green Day’s “Dookie” on repeat and memorizing every word to Mariah Carey’s “Daydream” didn’t cut it.
No, I wanted more. I wanted to make music instead of just experiencing it. So I started taking piano lessons, practicing for hours on a Yamaha keyboard (the one with the treasured setting that made every note sound like a barking dog). In elementary and middle school, I began singing in a choir and playing handbells.
(For those of you who have no clue what handbells are, here you go:
Yeah, I played those.)
In high school, I took things up notch, singing in two chorus groups and performing in our drama department’s musicals. Making music was a pretty big part of my life.
The only problem? I was never actually good at any of those things. To say I was not a naturally gifted musician is an understatement. I owe my parents an apology for countless piano renditions of “My Heart Will Go On” with more wrong notes than right ones. My handbell playing more closely resembled this video than the one above:
When it came to singing, my voice was better suited to blending in the background than performing solos or leading roles.
So why did I keep going? Why didn’t I quit, saving my family and friends from numerous headaches?
Because I loved music too much for that.
And do you know what happens when you don’t quit, even if you aren’t a prodigy?
You get better.
My piano skills improved enough to play Switchfoot’s “Only Hope” at my best friend’s wedding. My singing improved enough to earn the part of Glinda the good witch in my high school’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.” (And okay, maybe my handbell skills didn’t lead to anything awesome, but they did improve. Just ask my parents.)
Last week, I finished writing my seventh novel. The fact that I don’t have six published books with another on the way is proof that I’m far from being a naturally gifted writer. Out of those seven novels, one wasn’t even good enough to share with critique partners. One made it to critique partners, but didn’t get me an agent. One wasn’t good enough to be submitted to editors. Two went on submission, but didn’t sell.
Only one made it all the way to publication. One out of seven. Fifteen percent. Pretty terrible odds. But that’s a full fifteen percent more than if I would have quit after novel one, two, or three.
I have no clue if this seventh novel will make it on submission. Even if it does, there’s certainly no guarantee it will sell.
The only guarantee I have is that I will write novel eight.
If you love what you’re doing, delayed success isn’t a reason to quit. Keep practicing. Keep learning. Keep improving.
You’ll make it.
And I can’t wait to celebrate with you when you do.