Monday, November 11, 2013

Going the Distance

From 2001 to 2006, I raced 'Best in the Desert,' a series of long distance off road races, including 'Vegas to Reno,' known as the longest off road race in the USA. Twice I won the season championships in my class, at ages 50 and 53. I did it without the fastest bike, competing against younger people. What was the secret? Winning the war of attrition. Our team finished in spite of bent bikes, broken bones and other maladies. In 2003 I rolled to the finish line at 11:30 at night with no headlight. What does this have to do with writing?

A writer must go the distance too. Remember your first rejection  letter? "How could they?" you demanded. Hopefully you rallied and got back  to it. After a few (or a lot) of them, you developed thicker skin.

Or you spent big money and went to a conference, met an agent, gave her your pitch and got a no. You may have screwed up your pitch or your work wasn't a good fit. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off (I did that literally, many times when racing) and get going again. Once, when racing 'Vegas to Reno,' I crashed and broke my collarbone. I picked up the bike and rode it one handed for forty miles to the pit stop and handed it off to the others, then rode in the chase truck the rest of the day. We finished the race and won the championship that year.

Do you keep track of your submissions? I have a spread sheet with each short story, article and novel I've submitted. 134 submissions, 24 accepts. Being a numbers guy, that's about an eighteen percent success rate. It's skewed now, as I write for Author Culture, Geezer Guys and Gals ( and Judi Moreo's 'Choices' eMagazine. I don't include those.

We've all heard the stories about Julie, who sat down, wrote a 75,000 word romance, met an agent, and she just can't write fast enough. Those are the lottery winners, one in a million writers. Most of us must press on, and being a solitary life, sometimes must give ourselves the pep talk, as the team isn't clapping and slapping us on the back as we ride into the pits. Hopefully you have a writer's group, a critique group, or a forum where you can get some words of encouragement. Here's mine: You can do it! Keep writing! Go go go!
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