Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fortitude

When I was younger, I learned a word that has always stuck with me.  I read it in a book from a series I loved.  The main character was talking to his best friend, a guy who was desperately in love with the main character’s sister, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day.  When he asked the main character’s advice, he gave him one word:

“Fortitude.”

What a fantastic word.  Life liked to knock us down.  I know each of us has our own hardships, our own struggles.  What could a little fortitude give us?

It’s not just persistence.  It’s an emotional and physical determination to endure whatever comes, and to keep going.  It’s not stubbornness.  It’s more than that.
Why do I bring it up?

Because this is something that all writers must have.  This should be a prerequisite to writing.  Writing isn’t easy.  There’s the first draft.  Finishing that first draft, especially when you’ve never written a novel before, can be absolutely daunting.  In fact, I know quite a few people who’ve never finished one.  Then there’s the revisions.  Some might say that it’s even harder than the actual writing.  It’s taking away the inspiration and going for the analytical.  Looking at phrasing and syntax and ugly adverbs. 

After that?  Depending on the route you take, it’s querying, getting rejected, revising your query over and over again.  Or it’s self-publishing and fighting to get noticed above everyone else in the throng.

There’s nothing easy about writing. 

There's going to be a lot of curves and bumps in the road

A few weeks ago, I saw a fellow writer get discouraged because of feedback she’d received.  This was her first time, and I know how daunting that can be.  For someone else to look at your baby?  The thing you created from your own sweat and tears?  Yeah.  I definitely cried that first time.  Probably the second time too. 
When I talked to the writer about it later, she told me, “I’m not sure if I’ll be putting much more energy into the project.”

I wanted to grab her and shake her.  This is just the beginning.  She has a story, she has a plot.  The feedback wasn’t to scrap it and start all over again.  It was to do some revising and some fixing.  It was totally doable.  It’s a matter of taking a deep breath, closing her eyes and diving in.  Once you get to the other side, where critiques make you happy – even when they tear your work apart – that’s when things are starting to get good.

It’s too easy to give up.  Don’t do it.  Whether it’s your dream of writing a novel, learning a foreign language or riding a hot air balloon strap on some fortitude.  You’ll get there.