By Sandra Elzie
I’ve always loved to fish, casting my line into the water at the tender age of six in a stream near my home in North Carolina. The biggest problem back then was that I was trying to fish in a stream where I had only seen minnows and therefore, believe it or not, I never caught a fish. But I didn’t let that stop me from trying and trying and trying again on other days.
Almost half a century later, my husband was again listening to me expound on how I intended to write a book…someday…after I retired. At that time I wasn’t sure when that magical retirement date would be, but I was sure that it would include sleeping in, traveling and having all the time in the world to write the masterpiece that I was sure I was capable of writing. Besides, as a woman, I speak 15,000 words a day, so if I just wrote them all down, I’d have my first New York Times Best Seller in less than a week. Piece of cake. Then I could hire someone to clean the dust bunnies from under the bed and that would free even more of my time.
Then came the day when the rubber met the road. Or I might say that he called my bluff…if it was a bluff…and he asked me how much time I spent watching television and reading and then proceeded to ask me why I didn’t use half of that time to write. Why was I putting it off until retirement?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was a genius. I could have my cake and eat it too. I could work 40-hours a week, continue to cook the meals and chase the bunnies, and write the novel of the decade…in my spare time.
Well, being a strong-willed woman, I picked up the gauntlet he had so cleverly tossed down and started on the road to publication. Over the past six years I’ve learned some things that might help the new writer or make veteran writers laugh as they nod their heads in agreement.
When anyone takes up fishing, he or she might land “the big one” on the first try. Skill? Definitely. Beginner’s luck? Maybe, but for most of the novice fisherman, it takes someone instructing him on the finer points, explaining about the right rod and reel to use and the best “line” to use depending on what type of fish you’re going after.
So you don’t fish or understand what I’m getting at? Well, let me simplify it.
To catch the big fish, it takes patience and a desire to continue fishing until you hook a fish on the line, and if you fail today, you have to be willing to come back again and again, maybe trying a different bait, but never giving up on your goal.
In writing, you have to be willing to get rejection letter after rejection letter until the day comes when you get the one saying they liked your first three chapters and they want you to send in the entire manuscript.
You have to be willing to practice, to learn from others and read books written to help you learn the techniques of fishing…or writing. But most of all, you have to believe in yourself. If others have learned how to fish, you can too. If others have succeeded in catching a trophy fish suitable for displaying on their den wall, then you can follow in their footsteps and achieve great things also.
You might get discouraged at times, but if you keep practicing your craft, one day you will “hook” the big one and a framed copy of your first book cover will be mounted on your den wall.