The Merits of Perseverance

So, I’m 11 minutes late, but I’m posting today, third Wednesday straight. Hooray, me!

I got home late from my Wednesday night writing group, but I decided not to give up. I can do this thing!

So much about writing is about soldiering on. I’m going to give you three quick examples.

  1. A month and a half ago, I pulled an old, long-abandoned piece of flash fiction out of a drawer to share at my Tuesday writing group. We worked on it, and I got some more feedback from my Wednesday writing buddies, too. I kept struggling with the end, but I rewrote it over and over. Guess which story will be running on a very fun online venue in the near future (IY”H).
  2. At my writing group this evening, someone shared a story she’d despaired over. She’d almost given up, but she forced herself to look at the comments from the last couple times people had given her feedback. Tonight’s version was excellent. We can see publication is in her story’s future (G-d willing). (And yes, I’m super-superstitious about all these things. Until something actually is published, there’s potential for trouble, and it’s best to keep praying.)
  3. I have a deadline on Friday. I don’t like the way the story is coming out. My working environment – aka Chez Klempner – has been filled with vacationing family members and/or sick ones almost every day since I accepted this writing assignment. I didn’t even feel like working on it today, because I was so demoralized (and had a kid home sick again). But I did it anyway. And then, I was a bit embarrassed to show up at my writing group with this mediocre (that’s generous) third of a story. But I did it anyway, and I got lots of feedback that will hopefully set my story back on the rails for an intense re-write and completion tomorrow.

What these stories have in common is something that goes a bit beyond the normal definition of perseverance. What is it? What in Hebrew we call, savlanut. Usually, we translate the word as patience. But really, savlanut is the ability to wait while enduring pain, annoyance, discomfort, or difficulty. It’s not just “keep trying.” It’s “keep trying even if it’s a drag and you don’t want to and you’re tired and you have lots of very good excuses.”

The only way to gain this character trait – the ability to keep going even when you are suffering – is to do things that are hard for you. And then do it again, and again.

Writer’s tip for today: Do something that is hard for you. Pick up a long-abandoned piece of writing. Try one more time, even if it’s hard. Cut material you are attached to, or make the change you know you must, but don’t want to. See what happens.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Merits of Perseverance

  1. I enjoyed reading this post!

    Do I have a savlanut story for you, ma’am!

    I had really “hit my stride.” With much of my cover design complete, I had been maintaining a regular writing pace, following Monica Leonelle’s methods from Write Better, Faster, using beats and the Pomodoro method to increase my word count and to write more efficiently. Finally, my first draft was complete and it was time to plunge into editing.

    Then, came January 1. We took the kids to the roller rink, where the youngest grabbed me by the left hand and pulled me backwards, causing me to fall and to smash my left (dominant) elbow into the floor. My elbow was dislocated. Besides the excruciating pain, I had to endure the loss of time; I simply couldn’t write.

    I didn’t let it stop me. It was a minor setback. Despite the agony in my left arm, despite my being almost totally unable to do anything useful with it for nearly the first two weeks, I picked up my printouts and started editing with a pen anyway.

    Tonight, I can proudly say that I have recovered to a good degree and have just completed that first round of edits. My proof copies will be produced soon enough, despite an abundance of excuses to sit around and procrastinate “until I feel better.”

    Like

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