Friday, June 21, 2013

Persistence is:

I'm too far gone.

It's not like I can now don high heels and sit behind a desk and work in an office. Not anymore.

I'm too far gone.

I've persisted this long as a writer and in doing so I've ruined myself for most other kinds of work. Not that I'd be terrible at it, but I'd be terribly unhappy about it.

I'm too far gone.

Persistence takes you down the road of too far gone. It's the daily investment that does it. The daily deciding, "I'm a writer" and then, just to prove it, writing something. After a while (the amount of time is indeterminate, different for everyone though I suspect it falls within the lines of more than a year, but less than a lifetime), you realize you've given so much of yourself to the writing that you cannot walk away from it.

Persistence is working on the same manuscript for years, perfecting, editing, (sobbing a little), rewriting, putting it out there, reeling it back in, editing, rewriting, (sobbing a little), putting it out there again.

It's not just that you can't stop writing. It's that you can't let go of the story you are working on. Good enough isn't good enough. You need to understand it fully, bring it to the point of being utterly free of it's cocoon and is adorned in its true artistic identity.

Persistence is taking the blow of "No" from the publishing industry and making it work for you. Digging into the whys of rejection and emerging from the tunnel of doubt with a stronger story.

I recently got feedback on a novel I'm shopping that puzzled me greatly. But I trusted the person's instincts and decided I needed to understand what she meant and how I could fix the problem. I was clueless, so I decided to take a page from the film industry and ask people to be part of a test audience. The response was overwhelming and I eventually had to cap the group in order to keep the numbers and feedback manageable.

I don't know any other writer who has done anything like this, but I'm doing it anyway. You see, I'm too far gone. Too committed to this story, to an island off the coast of Maine, and the people living there to stop now. I must bring the story to fruition, hang the cost.

Persistence is combing through the responses (which started coming in less than 24 hours after I sent the manuscript out to my readers), teasing out patterns found within the many responses.

You have to find the patterns. The individual answers alone are not enough to make substantive changes. From the beginning, a few patterns within the usable responses (two responses were outliers to the survey, so beyond my target audience that their feedback--though appreciated--was unusable) and my mind began the chase, tearing off into high grass, hunting the elusive answers to the problem spots.

Persistence is hound dogging a story, never giving up even when it has cost you years (and because you've already invested years), even when another story is knocking on the door of your brain pan. You stay with the story, nurturing it along inch by inch.

I'm too far gone to do anything else.

What will the outcome be?

My novel.

I will have written a novel I can be proud of.

Finish the sentence for yourself--Persistence is:

8 comments:

Patti Hill said...

Persistence is pulling the spear out of your gut, so you can sit at your desk and write.

Josey Bozzo said...

Persistence is.....continuing to write without any experience, knowledge, or skills...and when no one is reading.

Marian said...

Bonnie Grove is persistent.

Sharon K Souza said...

Persistence is the engine that keeps me in the writing life. And yes, Bonnie, you have written a novel you can be proud of. I can't wait for its publication.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Persistence is writing a novel while homeschooling 3 kids.

My. What a year it has been.

Bonnie Grove said...

Patti, isn't it something like miraculous when you've been at this so long the spear in your gut is viewed merely as an obstacle preventing you from reaching your keyboard and therefore must be removed. The pain fades so quickly after so many years.

Josey: Indeed!! That is exactly where most writers live.

Marian: Thanks.

Sharon: Thank you. And you are persistent!! Keep going, you're lighting the way for more people than you know.

Susie: That's just overload right there!!

Karen Schravemade said...

I've been wondering how your test audience experiment went. Useful feedback? Have you seen those clear patterns emerging? I think this is such a great idea. You're amazing, Bonnie. You are, like Marian said, the very definition of persistence.

Bonnie Grove said...

The test audience is ongoing--the readers have until July 2 to finish reading and complete the survey. It's been wonderfully successful for me as I've read and looked for those patterns (the psychology training helps here as I'm well versed in spotting patterns) and I have already come up with three concrete changes I will make in the novel--nothing huge, but definitely very important.