There was a time when I wanted everything to go my way, exactly the way I wanted things to turn out. As I've matured, I realize that is not how the world works. Still, I sometimes experience acute bouts of impatience. But, I've come to look at setbacks not as failure, but rather as extra opportunities to succeed. For example, I was going to play and sing a special song at church. I had practiced and was ready to perform. That particular Sunday morning, as I was going out the door, the phone rang. A friend was calling to let me know that services had been suddenly cancelled due to an emergency. It was a letdown, but instead of pouting and moping, I prayed about it and realized that singing the song at a later date might be a blessing to someone who would have missed hearing it, had the original plan held up.
A positive attitude is paramount to success. Writers experience setbacks all the time. Just when we think we have created a masterpiece, an editor points out a flaw, or wants us to alter sentences, paragraphs, or (gasp) chapters. It's a blow to our egos, and an aggravation to have to go back to the drawing board. But, it's a chance to improve. I'm constantly polishing my current manuscript. It's a chore, and it seems like it's taking forever to complete. But, every edit is making it better. Reading the works of award-winning authors in my genre of historical fiction, as well as bestsellers by nonfiction history writers, is helping out tremendously. So too, are the notes from critique partners. I'm seeing my flaws, and correcting them. I lost count of the query rejections from earlier this year. Being told "No" hurts. But real writers never quit - they keep working and improving. My Mom has always preached to me about perseverance. This summer when I was down in the mouth over several rejection letters, a friend called with a pep talk (you know who you are VC). Admittedly, it's hard to keep going sometimes. But we don't walk the road of life alone. There are those who help us up, just as we lend a helping hand when a family member, friend or colleague needs our assistance.
I'm thankful for the way things have worked out with my writing this year. The more I write, the better I sound. Setbacks are part of the molding process. Attitude plays a big part in whether we succeed or fail. I've come up with a simple formula that works for me: IDEAS + TALENT + WORK ETHIC + ATTITUDE + RESOLVE + PERSEVERANCE = SUCCESS.