Tenacity, Determination and Persistence
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”
I thought this antique typewriter was a fitting picture because I want to talk a bit about my writing journey today. That certainly is one of my favorite things to do [writing] and one of my favorite subjects [the journey]. Tenacity, determination and persistence are three words I use to describe not giving up. My definition of being tenacious is being persistently determined. My idea of determination; is tenacity and persistence on steroids. And persistence…you got it; determination and tenacity in motion. Often, however, not quitting is much easier to philosophize about than to live out. I’ve learned this lesson with gaping wounds to prove it since I embarked on my journey to become a published novelist. The idea of hanging in there is certainly commendable but can leave you weary and beat down in the process. With all the great reward it brings when you’ve accomplished your goal it can pummel you mercilessly in the getting there.
As I look back at the past eighteen years I recall quite a few times I was so frustrated I wanted to chuck the idea of ever becoming a professional writer. Some were lightweight fleeting moments of discouragement and others were hard core lingering, I can’t do this anymore episodes. Fortunately the Lord carried me through them all but it was, as the late back in the day actress, Bette Davis coined, a bumpy ride. What kept me going? I’d say a combination of truly loving what I was doing, a passionate desire to accomplish what I set out to do and a natural stubborn streak which is part of my character. That PLUS the unction of the Holy Spirit telling me this was my gifting, my foundational destiny. You see, I initially wrote for myself even though I wrote Christian content. Then spiritual awareness kicked up a notch or two and I figured out this was not just about me. The fate of my writing was not in my hands alone but the mighty hand of the Lord. This was His program not mine. So I began writing for Him and the writing flowed amazingly. I knew at that point it wasn’t me…it was something far more compelling and powerful than mere Marlene. Even so many disruptive things began to happen; some good and most not so good. My life began to unravel like a ball of cheap yarn. I still wrote though. Things were going wrong on all fronts and I felt helpless but I still kept writing. I could give you a litany of details that would probably make you cry or at the least feel extremely sorry for me but I won’t go there. I wrote through pain, physical and emotional. I wrote through loss and humiliation, misery, fear, depression…and yes anger. I wrote with my heart breaking and my body aching but I still wrote. There were times when giving up just seemed the most sensible thing to do but I wouldn’t because I just couldn’t. Determination and persistence had taken root.
Then there’s the issue of paying your dues as we old schoolers call it. I got rejection after rejection. So trust me when I say looking at it from a success POV I was not encouraged. Each rejection made me go back and try to write better. I would take any constructively valid criticism and attempt to fix what was wrong. I learned as I went; on the job training of sorts. I had no one to guide me in my steps but the Holy Spirit. So I wrote and rewrote and rewrote some more but I kept writing. Rejection on any level is hard to take and when you sweat over a manuscript giving it your best and your blood then someone tells you it isn’t good enough, that hurts enormously. Yet I continued to write because it’s the very nature of daring to be a novelist to expose yourself to and take the critical hits. You put your work out there for other people’s subjective opinions be they seasoned professionals in the business or your devoted readers. The purpose of that season was to develope a thicker skin and believe me when I say, getting published does not instantly stop the process. It’s getting thicker all the time.
There came a time when my life became completely dismantled and I was whipped…down for the count. All the other times I could sramble up after a bit. This time I couldn’t. I was too weary of pumping up my spirits and forging forward in the midst of all the adversity. My battery was exhausted from putting out hopeful attitudes when everything around me was so dismally dicouraging. I fell into a pity party and could not…would not come out of it one more time. I was in turmoil from so much of what was happening in my life. Plus I was tired of the journey that seemed it would never reach a fruitful place. I thought I must have been mistaken and misread this whole thing. It can’t be in God’s will for me to do this. I’m just not good enough and never will be. I don’t have the strength of character or emotional fortitude to go on. I can’t take anymore rejection, Lord! My life is a mess I can’t control but I can stop this esteem bashing bid to get published. That I thought I could control but that was an erroneous assumption. I was earnestly ready to quit. I had given up but God had not given up on me. For that I am eternally grateful.
Then is when the Lord answered a desperate prayer for definite confirmation. He gave me an answer in a way I KNEW was Him speaking back to me. On another blog in the future I’ll give you the details about that prayer and the answer. The important thing is once God unmistakenly showed me it was His will for my life and writing was my gifting from Him; I knew I couldn’t quit. Thank goodness Jesus gave me an answer so clear and shoring because it had to carry me for the next three years before I got my first book contract. Hard to believe now how ready I was to give up but that was exactly what the enemy wanted. I was at the brink of a break through I would have missed if I had not made that last ditch effort and prayed, crying out to God.
What I learned was invaluable through the painful events and rejection…years of it, having to rely soley on the Lord. That was the deepest most impressionable lesson in hind sight; learning to fully rely and trust God. When the Holy Spirit impregnates you with a dream the pregnancy can be long with excruciating labor and delivery. You wonder if you’re crazy for having this baby [dream]. You question the sense of it and your rationality to pursue something so unlikely. The burden becomes heavy and too eventually uncomfortably burdensome. Then your soul kicks into the spiritual gear and you understand this is His thing. He, Who can do all things choses the least likely to accomplish His earthly tasks. Once that settles in your spirit you can carry on until time to give birth. You stand on your faith in what God says and you stand firm no matter how it looks. You might do it with tears streaming down your face or beating your pillow in screaming fits but you do it. I hung on by my nails sometimes barely able to make it but I hung in there. Then one day…one glorious day it happens. God’s promise to you is manafested in the natural. What he said finally happens despite all the reasons why it couldn’t or shouldn’t. It’s at that moment in the midst of your elated bravado, while you shout thank you, Jesus and glory halleluiah that you profoundly understand it would not have happened if you had given up. Once you deliver your mind is so blown you’re numb. Giving birth to a dream needs to absorbed over time. Savoring the memories of the process, although draining can be life affirming.
Doubts and feelings of inadequacy do not flee permanently but you learn how to send them packing when they comes to call the next time as your dream grows into its fullness. Weak as I got sometimes my persistence paid off. My determination did it and tenacity got me to the mark. Successful people are always persistent they say. Those who achieve much are determined individuals who push forward through obstacles. Tenacity has its own reward in finishing what you start. Tenacity, determination and persistence helped me become a published novelist, I’m sure. They are essential characteristics to succeed in any area. Still, I give the glory to my God because if it had not been for supernatural tenacity and divine determination with a touch from the finger of Jesus for persistence, Marlene would never have made it. If the Good Lord had not been holding me tight during some of the worst times in my life I would have collapsed physically and emotionally and given up. There is no doubt about it. Thank you Christ Jesus!!!
Matthew 7:7-8 (NLT)
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.