Sean Williams (ladnews) wrote,
Sean Williams

on the importance of psychotic persistence

The awesome Jay Lake posted overnight on the power of persistence. Psychotic persistence, to use Jay's phrase. Successful writers don't have super powers. They just have that, and if you've got it too, you'll get there. Probably.

I offer myself as a case in point. This is a special year for me. Two decades ago, I started writing seriously--that is, with the intention of becoming a full-time writer. I had no idea how long it would take. The ten-year deadline I sometimes talk about--that I would give up if I didn't have a book in print in that time--was hanging over me, and burning under me were the fires of determination.

In 1989 I wrote thirteen stories, only two of which were ever published, much later, and one novel--When the Cow Came Down, unpublished (and so may it remain forever).

A decade after that, I dropped my last shift at the legendary CD Shop and went full time. In 1999, I wrote five short stories, three of which were published, one novella, and one and half contracted novels, The Dark Imbalance and The Stone Mage & the Sea.

In the ten years since then (not counting 2009), I've written and published almost three million words of fiction.

People talk about love of the craft, honing the art, living the dream, et hoc genus omne. That's all important. But psychotic persistence makes possible the impossible.

I used to say that if I'd known how hard it would be--that it would take ten long years before I made any kind of dime out of this lark--then maybe I would've given up.

The truth is that I wouldn't have given up. I couldn't have. And besides, if hard work is all it takes, then that's a genuine comfort. It's easy to work hard at something I love. Take out "psychotic" and put in "passionate" and you'll get the idea. If you feel the same way, then maybe you're well on the way too.

"What did you write today?"
Tags: 2009, anniversary, writing
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