Welcome once again to Living the Dream as we plod our way through the last dozen letters or so of the alphabet. Today, we have the letter P. Whenever I think of that letter, Peter Piper immediately comes to mind, but then so do other P words. The letter P begins many great words, such as power, potential, poignant, perseverence, and piety, but I chose to look at persistence again, just as i did last year, because like so many things, it’s necessary for success.
To some, persistence isn’t seen as a good thing. It’s that “dog with a bone” quality some people have that won’t allow them to give up or give in, even when the battle is lost. It’s what some people see as mulishness or pig-headedness. To others, it’s foolhardniness when a person refuses to back down. Like David and Goliath. The odds of killing the giant were slim to none, but he persisted in his goal to do so.
For many, persistence is that factor that won’t let them give up on trying to make a difference, even against trememdous odds. It’s what has led to breakthgroughs in science and medicine. To me, persistence is both a good and a bad quality, as so many of them are.
How many times have you told a child to”Keep trying and you’ll get it.” or “Don’t give up.” and how many have done just that? For years, I was afraid to do what I wanted to do. I believed all the naysayers and did what society wanted me to do. I went to school each day, taught my students, went home and did wife and mommy things, But I didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t dream. I persisted in believing it wasn’t possible.
When I retired, somehow, I found the gumption to give in to my dream and try it. Doing something when everyone tells you you’re crazy, is the ultimate example of persistence. “That’s a great hobby.” “Why on Earth would you want to do something like that now? You’re retired. Enjoy your freedom. Don’t chain yourself to a desk.”
When I first started writing, I came so close to giving up well before I finished my first book. The idea that I was cocky enough to think I could write a book that others would want to read was one I clung to with tenacity, but did I have what it took to persevere? In the midst of my doubts, a friend gave me a laminated copy of Calvin Coolidge’s words on persistence.
Imagine having enough self-confidence to believe your willingness to continue with a task, an idea, or a goal, can overshadow talent, genius, and education. Where would we be if scientists and medical researchers hadn’t persisted in their tasks?
No writer starts off at the top of the bestseller list. If they do, it’s because they took the time to study the market and managed to latch onto a phenomena that worked for them. As a writer, I’ve learned the importance of presistence in writing. I understand the need to read, write, reread, and rewrite. I struggle with show and not tell as we all do, but I persist at it, trying to make each book, story, or novella better than the one before. Thomas Carlyle sums it up nicely.
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