Hi and welcome back to Hints & Tips! After the summer break, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about persistence – about not giving up on your writing dreams even if, like me, you’ve taken a bit of a breather during the holidays.
Writing isn’t easy and to be honest, sometimes giving up seems like the only sane option. They say persistence pays off, but what if it doesn’t? The truth is, it might or might not, but a few months ago I went to a library talk by the novelist Louise Beech and what she said on the subject really inspired me. Her story proves that persistence really can pay off. So I asked her to write this blog and I hope you find it inspiring too… Jenni x
“Persistence. This is a good word. An apt word. It’s certainly something that you need in the writing industry. Of course, you need some other things; a bit of talent; a dash of luck; and a very thick skin. But really, persistence pays. You make your own luck.
I started my first novel, Maria in the Moon, back in 2007, during one of the hardest times of my life. We had just lost our home in Hull to floods, lost many of our belongings and our car. But that was nothing when my seven-year-old daughter got very ill and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, which needed round-the-clock care and multiple injections to manage it. I gave up my voluntary work and my day job as a travel agent. Writing became my escape. But that book would take another ten years until it would be released … as my third book!
Yes, it took me eight long years, four novels, and endless rejections to finally get a book deal in 2015. Along the way, friends and family asked why I didn’t give up when my first novel got rejected a thousand times, when the second one did, and then when the third one did. By the time I was trying to get my fourth published, I think they had more or less certified me insane.
So what was it that kept me going? A couple of things. It may sound corny, but I had an inkling it would happen. I’d always had this strong feeling that I was supposed to be a writer. Also, I love writing. I feel quite unwell when I don’t. You need to love it or else, trust me, you won’t be able to make a career of it. Also, I knew that if I gave up then I’d never be published, whereas if I kept going there was always a chance I would.
Don’t get me wrong, the rejections hurt. I cried at the first. Then I was very Scarlett O’Hara and got up and declared I’d never cry over one again. And don’t get me wrong, it’s very very hard to keep going when everyone says no to you. You do begin to question your own ability. This is why a thick skin and self-belief is essential. Anger came in handy. This fuelled my passion for proving them wrong. So I stuck at it.
And it paid off. Finally, the fourth book I wrote was published as my debut in September 2015. And this month the second one I wrote is being published as my fourth, The Lion tamer Who Lost. So never give up. That’s truly the best advice I can give.
Jenni Fletcher did her BA in English at Cambridge and her PhD (on the deeply unromantic works of Joseph Conrad) at Hull. She now writes historical romance for Mills & Boon and her fifth book The Warrior’s Bride Prize is out imminently (just saying). She can be contacted via Twitter @JenniAuthor.
Louise Beech is the author of five novels. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012 and her debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015.