It must be true: what all those how-to-write books, magazines, and workshops tell me about persistence being the key to becoming a successful, aka published, author. My high school history teacher liked to tell my class success was 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
During one of my writing lulls, waiting for a reader to critique my novel manuscript, I decided to test my writing hand at freelancing. There are several areas I know in-depth, so what the heck, why not try it? Let’s call this my inspiration phase.
I started polishing my proposal-writing skills and sent off several queries concerning various areas of interest: health care, food, travel. My enthused phase began as I labored over saying just enough to garner interest from a magazine publisher while not succumbing to my bad habit of wordiness. I sent out the batch in late August and early September of 2012.
I heard nothing from any publisher, not one nibble. This definitely would be categorized as my patience phase. But my returned novel cried out for yet another round of revisions, so the entire freelancing exercise became one more tabbed item in my “Clips” three-ring binder.
The day after I completed another novel revision round (which I sent off via delivery service to an out-of-state reader/mentor) I was surprised to see a response from an editor concerning one of my ideas. It was with trepidation I opened the message. After reading it, I entered my pleased phase which, of course, lasted about ten minutes, until I realized I had tons of work ahead. The good news was I had to write a freelance article; the bad news was I had to write a freelance article.
The lengthy process began with submitting a detailed outline and completion timeframe. With that approved, a contract arrived, needing my signature. It stated all the conditions, including the caveat that even though my proposal had been accepted, there was no guarantee the submitted article would be published (I’d be paid a small compensatory fee — what I thought of as a “nice try” award — in such a case). Nevertheless, this would be my first experience actually being paid for one of my writing efforts — a most pleasing outcome.
At this point, I developed a bad case of butterfly stomach. But I realized the best way to alleviate the jitters was to dive in and get my research rolling, my interviews scheduled, and my submitted outline fleshed out into a completed first draft. I sent it off electronically several days ahead of the deadline just as my marked-up novel returned. This could be called my distracted phase, as improving my novel now again absorbed my time and attention.
Then on July 29th, 2013 (please note we are approaching a full year since I got the bright idea to try this line of work) I received a message from another editor who had been assigned to my article and was sending me his suggested edits. Wow, this could be really happening. I worked on reviewing, approving, and returning his suggestions in record time. I now entered my hopeful phase. I moved on to my really hopeful phase when the head editor sent me one more round of changes. All the people I worked with at this publishing house were the ultimate in expertise and professionalism.
Feeling positive vibes, I ventured a question: when I could expect to see this in print? They would let me know. Then nothing happened. For months. Until on November 21st, 2013 (a full fifteen months after my first proposal) when I pulled a copy of the December, 2013/January, 2014 issue from my mailbox with my article on the cover! A feeling of euphoria started my Wow phase.
So persistence definitely is needed. I think I’ll call it peskiness. That seems more accurate. The plot thickens.