Wednesday, September 05, 2007

From Steven Barnes

This is a post from Steven Barnes. He is a black science fiction writer whom I highly respect as a WRITER and as a modern day Renaissance man. Listen to his words of wisdom. You can check out his daily postings at his blog atDar Kush

N is for "Never Give Up"
I heard a story once--not certain whether it's true or apocryphal. It's said that WinstonChurchill was asked to give the commencementaddress at a British school. He mounted thestage, looked out at the audience of fresh young faces and said: "Never. Never. Never. Never. Never. Never. Never give up."

And sat down.

It's never, ever, ever been said better. In life,you should choose an occupation, a career, a livelihood that you feel that strongly about. Me? I'd rather fail as a writer than succeed at anything else. I've typed my fingers bloody, cried myself to sleep, wrestled with my demons,read until my eyes were bleary, sought out any and all advice or help I could find, whereverI could find it.

All because what I wanted, more than anythingin the world, was to be a writer. Most peoplecan't handle rejection, not realizing that rejection, in any arena from getting published seduction to sales (and aren't they all really just the same thing?), is just a numbers game. You have to get rejected twenty times forevery "yes" you get. Or thirty. Or fifty. Whatever.

The person who wins is the one who gets up to the plate one more time after hisheart has been broken. Who gets back on the horse after all his friends are wincingand limping back to the bunkhouse. Whoasks yet another girl to dance after a dozen have said "no."

It's a numbers game. When you start collecting rejection slips, keep a scrap-book. Paper your walls with the little suckers. Consider every "no" a victory--you are oneof the few with the guts to keep going afterit gets tough.

And make no mistake, it's going to be tough.Even writers who seem to have utterly charmed careers have their personal struggles, I promise you. They just don't wear theirhearts on their sleeves. You see the finishedproduct, not the hell they went through to produce it.

You must believe that your efforts will be rewarded, if your goals are clear, you workto the edge of your ability, tell the truth, continually improve your circle of allies, and have faith.

Go back over everything I've taught youabout the Hero's Journey. It is the combinedwisdom of all the world's elders, condensedto comprehensible form. While nothing andno one can promise you success, I can absolutely guarantee you failure:

Just roll over and give up. That'll do it.

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