You ask, I answer, part two

Taking another question each from B.C and Nicki:

How do you stay motivated to send stuff out into the wide world of publishing?

Random digression: I grew up in Reno. As you might have heard, there are slot machines there, at least a couple. Casinos will advertise things like “97.3% payback!” Right — for every $100 you bet, you lose $2.70, and people keep playing. You have to ask yourself why.

Intermittent reinforcement. Basically, animals and people are more likely to continue a given behavior if they’re only rewarded some of the time. Those random payoffs? Keep people gambling, even if overall they’re losing money.

From a psychological perspective, the fact that I had an early success (short story sale), followed by intermittent other successes, predisposes me to maintain the pattern of behavior that leads to that reward. Fortunately, I’m only losing time, not money, to the process, and along the way I’m getting better at my writing.

That’s the other thing that keeps me going — as time has gone on, I’ve had more near misses, more personal rejections, more successes in the various ways that I define success. My writing is getting better, and the chances of selling it are going up. And as my thesis advisor often said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” If I don’t submit my stories to markets, the answer is automatically “No.” The only way to get a “Yes” is to send it out.

It also helps that I’m a stubborn woman from a family of stubborn people and most of the time, I treat “no” as meaning “You just haven’t tried hard enough yet.” (This is also why I spent much longer bashing my head against my thesis project in grad school than any rational person would have done.)

Best book you’ve read this month, whatever it was

I’m in the middle of a few, and some are really excellent. But I did recently finish an older how-to writing book, Writing Novels That Sell, by Jack M. Bickham. I took a while to read it because some of the chapters really required time to sink in. I wrote a review, and if/when it’s available online, I’ll post a link. Meanwhile, that’s my current nonfiction recommendation.

Oddly enough, most of my current TBR pile is MG or YA, and I’m actually feeling stressed because I’m getting so little of it done.

P is for perseverance

Otherwise known as, why quit when you’re behind?

No, really. If you haven’t reached your goal yet, and you quit, you’ll never reach it.

Perseverance is the art of creating a goal and focusing on it — either on the long-term goal or on each step you need to take along the way — until you’ve reached it.

Sometimes, the goal is something like making it through another week. Sometimes, it’s writing a novel. Sometimes, it’s running a race, learning a new language, or raising a child.

Perseverance gets us through. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time — in my case, literally. Perseverance helped me relearn to walk, more than once. Perseverance is helping me relearn to run. Perseverance keeps me going.

What have you persevered at recently?