Do You Have What It Takes?
So I've been at this writing thing for a long time now (most of my life, actually) and I've been trying (sometimes sporadically) for the past ten years (at least!) to, as they say, "break into" publishing. I've tried submitting to big publishers. I've tried submitting to agents. I've entered contests. I've written blogs. All in an attempt to "make it big." With minimal success. I have been rejected by the big publishers, turned down by the agents, and failed to final in the contests. As for the blogs, sometimes people read them, sometimes they don't. I did manage to catch the eye of someone who went on to start their own publishing company and published one book with them, but I seem to have been lost in the shuffle as this person builds up the client list for the company.
This has all led me to wonder - do I have what it takes to be a successful writer? And how long should I continue trying?
The strange, perhaps ironic, thing is, I have always been told that I have great talent for writing. And not just by family and friends. All throughout school, my English teachers encouraged and nurtured my writing, and in college, my assignments were often marked with the words, "This is easily publishable." So why, then, am I having such a hard time trying to break through? Why can't I find that one agent, that one editor, who decides that they have to publish my books? Why can't I make it to the finals of the contests I enter?
One of the most disheartening aspects of writing for anyone brave entrough to try it (and you have to be brave to do it) is rejection. They say not to take it personal - it's not you, the person, they're rejecting, after all - but it's pretty hard not to because it is personal. I think that's the one thing that some people from the other side of the business don't understand. It IS personal. I can't speak for everyone else, but I think they might agree, that writing comes from deep within, spilling forth in subjects and stories that mean something to us, so when someone says they don't want it, it's like they're saying, "Your baby is ugly." And no one wants to hear that, especially if they truly believe otherwise.
Well, I believe I am coming to a crossroads in my life. I am coming to the point where I'm beginning to believe that I don't have what it takes, that no one truly wants to read my books. It is a painful place to be at because now I have to decide where I go from here. Do I continue to write new stories and push them out there, hoping someone will finally take a chance on me? Do I try to publish them myself and push them out there and hope someone will buy them and validate my belief that they're worth reading? Or do I just go back to writing for myself and keep the stories to myself like I did in the good old days when everyone around me was desperate to read them? I honestly don't know right now.
So what about you? How do you decide if you have what it takes? And how long are you willing to keep at it until you succeed?