The publishing world isn’t for whiners. It’s not for quitters. Yet, it’s hard not to get down now and then – to wonder if you’ll ever get there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Persistence is king. Persistence can trump talent. Of course, some sort of talent is required, just not always of the superstardom kind.
I’ve learned the best attitude is a positive, competitive one. Being negative will only wear you down. That’s not to say you should think every manuscript request or every editor reading your work is yours to be had. Be realistic. If you generally have good thoughts about your work, if you’ve gotten great feedback more times than not, it’s just a matter of time. Stay positive. If your book isn’t for one person, but you’ve been getting great feedback, you’re on the right track. Not getting feedback consistently? Time to take another look at the manuscript. Just remember, it’s a very subjective business. Conflicting feedback? Go with the majority. Not right for one agency? One publisher? That’s okay. Move forward.
Ever hear of a racehorse named Seabiscuit? Back in the Great Depression, an unexpected hero etched his mark on history and in the hearts of millions. How? Attitude. He was small for a racehorse, and not flashy at all. In fact, he was an unlikely champion – a small, plain bay colt with imperfect knees and nondescript looks. Not exactly the kind of horse trainers dream of. Still, he had talent. He didn’t win all his races, but he ran every one the best he could. In 1938, he was set to run a match race against triple crown winner War Admiral. War Admiral had won about every race he’d ever run, and did so impressively. He was tall and sleek and movie star gorgeous. Truly, he was every trainer’s dream. He looked fast just standing still.
So, when the day came, odds were against scrawny Sea Biscuit. But every stride War Admiral took, Seabiscuit dug in harder. He never gave in and he never gave up. He had attitude. The RIGHT attitude. He didn’t think about the races he’d lost. He didn’t think about those who’d said less than kind things about him or the ones who bet against him. He just kept running. He didn’t pay attention to the dirt thrown in his face from the heels of War Admiral. He dug in harder until he raced neck and neck with his rival. And when the crowd screamed and roared, Seabiscuit just kept going – all the way to the finish line, crossing it four lengths ahead of War Admiral.
Yeah, I know. Horses don’t think about stuff like lost races or unkind gestures and comments. They don’t even look back on the races they won or that they were favored to win (all those kind words). Just go with it, okay? Or, take a lesson from a horse – your choice. Forward is the only way to go. Going forward with the right attitude, the right amount of heart, even better. You won’t win them all. Forget the ones you don’t. If you keep trying and hold your head high, you’ll win the important ones, and that’s all that counts.