Saturday, February 27, 2010

How Serious Are You?

In a recent conversation, the issue of persistence came up, though it was being applied to a topic totally unrelated to writing. As I thought about the word and its implications, I made an interesting connection to my efforts at self-improvement in several areas (including writing, photography, and pursuit of joyous adventure).

It seems clear to me that the measure of your persistence in the pursuit of a given goal is a really solid way of asking the question “How serious are you?”

As I sat down to begin my current novel--and when I reassess my progress at various stages throughout--my overriding goal was and remains to produce a completed novel that makes me happy within a given timeframe.

My dream is, of course, much bigger than that. Publication, best-sellerdom, financial independence, and an an active fan club come to mind. But my goals--the things I can fully command--only extend to the writing of a book that makes me happy and doing everything in my power to put it in front of someone who will likely publish it.

The extension of that goal is to, with hard-nosed determination, make any changes indicated by the responses I get from the publishing world when I begin my pursuit of an agent and publisher.

The easy distillation of these goals is to say I’m looking to prove my willingness to persist.

Throughout my younger life, I rarely proved either a willingness or an ability to persist. That failure cost me dearly. I didn’t fail in this regard due to laziness. Instead, I failed because of a fundamental lack of confidence.

At a certain point, I came to realize that, on the rare occasion that I did demonstrate something approaching a hard-nosed persistence, the world didn’t often refuse me. But in the far-too-common case in which I showed too little persistence, the world was happy to thumb its nose at me.

I hadn’t in the end proven myself to be serious, so why should the world bother to reward me?

But I'm a different person now, a different man. And I have learned the lessons I wish I'd learned long ago. I am very serious, and I will persist.

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