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This is not an inspirational blog.

By that, I mean you will find no images and taglines here that you could use to make into a poster for your conference room. No cute kittens of mine will ever tell you to “hang in there”–or anywhere. (That’s my kid, above; my arms hurt just looking at him.) If I were to make such a poster, it might say, “Bitch a lot, and hope for sympathy–or at least free coffee.”

Still, I am not totally, cynically immune to pep-talks, or at least subtle reminders that bitching gets us nowhere, usually not even heard. But perseverance can get us writers, bloggers, and do-ers of all kinds off the starting block (or whatever tired motivational metaphor you prefer).

Call it perseverance. Call it stick-to-itivness. Call it sisu, if you’re in with the Finns. Please just don’t call it grit. (Am I the only one sick of that word? People: meet thesaurus; thesaurus meet people.)

All that’s to say, sometimes one (me) has to stop bitching and start working, which for this story writer looks like: composing, revising, editing, more editing; and lastly, the dreaded submitting.

The tale of my most recent story submission goes like this. (Here’s hoping it’s mildly inspirational.)

It was a story that I had to tell. While I generally enjoy a football field-sized writerly distance from the characters I explore in my fiction, this one hit much closer to home. Call it cheap therapy, but my mom was battling breast cancer and I was a 12-hour Greyhound bus ride away and English major-angsty. What to do with all that anger at the plain meanness and stupidity of cancer for targeting the one person who “got” me?

I wrote about it. I framed my confusion into a story about going home to be with the fictional her at the end and about how a cancer death–the coagulating of so many errant cells–made the fictional me dream of growing another kind of ball of cells, which would turn into a kid (or kids, as it turned out) of my own.

Like much fiction, there was truth in this story (along with much artifice). And it felt good to get my truth on the page, and then into the ether, and maybe even under the nose of a literary journal editor–or 58 (yep, I just counted).

Fast-forward a dozen years or more, and a much-revised version of this story will see the light. I received the glorious email with “acceptance” in the subject line a week after logging three rejections of other stories.

Some stories come easily; some take just a couple revisions before I’ve deemed them to be editor-ready. Not this story of my mom and me and breasts and death as beautiful as birth.

My story of writerly perseverance, by the numbers: revision No. 15; story title No. 3; 1,200 additional words since first draft, written for English 666 (no joke); and 1 fewer mention of the show, Friends, and also 9-layer dip, since that first draft (phew).

You get the gist. The story grew with me, and I with it, but I didn’t let it go–just like my little guy up there on the rock wall. I could have, but I didn’t.

More to come on my story’s new home, journal information, and issue launch.

Want more writerly advice? I’ve got a category for that.

Want to follow me on FB? Twitter? Let’s persevere together in all the social fun…

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “A note on perseverance in writing…and everything else

  1. Congratulations!! I find your words inspiring. Makes me want to grab that notebook with the story I started years ago, dust it off, and tweak it again! Yep, I’ll follow you on Facebook, thanks for the link!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Shelley! The wonderful thing about living with a story for so long is that all the writing we do–whether we think of it as “creative” or not–makes us better storytellers. I encourage you to dust off that story, even if for no other reason than to see how you’ve grown as a writer. Who knows–maybe this tweak will be the one! See you on FB, and thanks again.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Congratulations! Please let us know when the story is published. I would love to read it. Loved the image of your rock climbing son also. Such a great metaphor for writing and perseverance. I am glad your perseverance has paid off!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats, Rebecca! So great to hear about your perseverance, and that the story grew with you. Those are the best kinds. Can’t wait to hear more about it. Now to sound spammy even though it’s not, I tagged you in a writers tag on my latest blog post. Feel free to play along if you want.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a hard hitting, in your face narrative to tell me to just do it…:)….nicely done Rebecca….that should be the attitude when one is in a writer’s block or any such block as a matter of fact. I have been through it myself, and I have pushed myself out of it too…..so I can relate to your post….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, we writers can’t go too easy on ourselves. Sure, there’s self care, but then there’s just plain stalling. The getting the writing “out there” is the toughest part for me. Requires a different skill set than the creative writing part. Back to it… I appreciate you stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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