It seems appropriate to write my first blog entry on grit. Like all of you, I have been on a long journey of self discovery. A journey that continues each and every day, taking new turns and finding new road blocks. Grit is that little something that keeps searching for meaning when all seems lost. Grit keeps striving for that goal well after easier methods have fallen short. Grit is the backbone of success. It is what sees dreams realized and goals accomplished.
Sometime in 2021 one of my life’s biggest dreams will be realized. My first novel, The Death of a Songbird, will be released through Dragon Soul Press. The first draft of this book was written in 2016, back when I knew next to nothing about writing a novel. Countless articles about character building, world creation, plot integration, and grammar later and I had what resembled a finished manuscript. Then came the query letters, and boy did I write a lot of them. I have not counted the exact number, but I know I received a minimum of 100 rejection letters in the past three years. Each and every one of those letters pushed me to make the next one better and finally I got some interest from several publishers and a few literary agents. I was over the moon. I thought I had made it. That my book was on the cusp of going out to the world.
I was wrong. Sometimes it was because I was too new of an author and had no published works to my name. Other times the book simply wasn’t the right fit or needed more editing. Most of the promising responses ended with me never hearing back, or a short note about the book not being right for them after a 6 month wait. This could have been the end of my dream. Logic screamed at me to look at the evidence. Look at all the professional publishers and agents who don’t think my manuscript is worth putting out into the world. Grit told me otherwise.
Instead of giving up I doubled down. I took every critique from every rejection letter I received and made edit after edit after edit. Three years after completing my first rough draft I got one of the most exciting emails of my life. The team at Dragon Soul Press did something that none of the previous publishers or agents who were interested in my manuscript have done before. They gave me extensive, detailed feedback. In the writing world we would call this a revise and resubmit. I was ecstatic. I instantly put all other pastimes, hobbies, and free-time activities on hold. Every spare moment I had was spent making the improvements the Dragon Soul Team lovingly suggested to me.
In the end, all the grit and determination paid off and the team and Dragon Soul Press offered me my first ever writing contract. As I wait for their editor to continue to make improvements on my story, I cant help but look back at all the times I could have given up. All the times I could have let rejection number 10, 25, or 100 get me down. My guess is that all of you have a dream like mine. A dream to create, lead, inspire, or achieve something that seems unattainable, or unrealistic. Don’t give up. Even if things don’t turn out like you expected, the journey will change you. Stick with it. Soak up all the criticism and advice you can. Turn it into fuel. Use it to renew your passion and reimagine the goals that lead to your dream becoming reality.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
― Calvin Coolidge