Tuesday, July 21, 2009


By Sandra Elzie

There’s a very famous quote by Winston Churchill from a speech he made to the boys at Harrow School on October 29, 1941. The world was in a huge conflict…World War II…and this man was rallying the boys to stay on course, to never give up.

" Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'' Winston Churchill

Were his words only for a generation that is dying at more than 100 per day? I don’t think so. When a writer puts in time, energy, even blood, sweat and tears, to write the story that is inside the brain begging to be released, why do some of us then hesitate to let a friend critique it? Or maybe you got that critique…even if you paid $25 to some RWA chapter on the other side of America in their annual contest…but now you hesitate to send it off to a publisher or an agent.

Yes, I can understand the difference. In a contest, the judge doesn’t know your name. To that person, you’re just a number, but with a publisher, they send their rejection letter to you, (by name) to your home address. This is getting just a little more personal.

Aside from the fact that an editor in New York will never see you and the rejection is because your story isn’t for them and has nothing to do with you, it’s still difficult to get rejected, especially when you want something as badly as most authors want to have their work published.

But who is the enemy? In his speech, Churchill told the boys “…never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Who is your enemy?

I’d venture to say that it isn’t that faceless judge 3,000 miles away, nor is it the anonymous editor in New York. Sad to say, but WE are our worst enemy. We can blame anyone or anything we want, but when the rubber meets the road; when we’re finally honest with ourselves, we have to admit that it’s our choices that make the difference. Do you set an attainable goal of writing (or editing, plotting or researching) every day or write whenever the mood strikes or you have nothing else to do? Do you choose to complete a manuscript or do you hop to the next one so that you end up with 5 half-finished books? (Surprise, surprise! Publishers only buy and publish completed manuscripts!)

Face it, the choices are in our control and we either exercise that control to reach a goal or we abdicate that control to the little voice in our head that says we’ll never make it, we’ll never publish, and we’ll always be a failure. My advice to anyone who has a loud “little voice”, kick the sucker to the curb and move on. If you have a story to tell, then make up your mind to not let anything or anyone stop you from telling it. WRITE YOUR STORY! Then when you succeed; when a publisher puts down the money and buys your book, you will be the one taking the bow… providing you never yield to the Apparently Overwhelming might of the enemy and if you NEVER GIVE UP.

Quote taken from http://winstonchurchill.org/


Debbie Kaufman said...

I could easily be the one with 5 books started and never finished EXCEPT I won't let myself. I refuse to give up on finishing this story. My D-Day is Moonlight and Magnolias!

Maxine Davis said...


Such a timely and great post! How many of us are struggling but WILL have that finished manuscript by M&M? I will. And it will be better because of the Critique Angel that is helping me through this.

"The Babe" said it:

You just can't beat the person who never gives up.
Babe Ruth

Chicki said...

Unfortunately, I hear that voice quite often and spend a lot of time telling it to shut up!

I've decided to give it ten years. That means I have a year and a half to get that contract or I'm out.

Sandy Elzie said...


I'll answer yours first since it's critical. NEVER GIVE UP!!! I wrote off and on for YEARS! (I started writing at about 8 or 9 and I'm 59, so you do the math) I got serious in 2001. I sold in 2008. What if I had given myself a deadline 10,20 or 30 years ago?
If it's inside, keep letting it out, keep studying to improve and keep sending it out. Your day will come. Thanks for the comment.

Debbie, I'll expect your WIP finished and printed to show for Finish The Book contest. You'll make the deadline...I have faith in you, and who knows? You just might win the FTB contest.

I love the Babe Ruth quote...he's right. Another saying is the winner is the one who stands up one more time than life knocks him (or her) down.

Thanks for dropping by, ladies.


Sally Kilpatrick said...


Thanks for the tough love. I'm sitting on page 213 and suffering from doubt, so it was very timely.

Maybe we should start a regular column for you: Tough Love with Sandy.


Marilyn Baron said...

Thanks. What a great post, Sandy. Very inspirational. I love Winston Churchill by the way.

Never surrender!

Marilyn Baron

Susan May said...

As someone that had hundreds of rejections before I was published, I'm an example of not giving up. You have to keep at it to get better. Great post!

Sandy Elzie said...


I love the idea! Tough Love by Sandy...LOL

My child once said that I should have been a drill seargant. (the little monster--grin)


You are a prime example of NEVER GIVE UP. What if you had quit at 20 or 30 rejections? (or 120 or 130?) Sucess is earned by the wounds received during battle.


Thanks for the visit. Yes, I love to read about people who will defy the odds, go against the grain to achieve...We Will Not Be Denied. Love it!


Linsey Lanier said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Sandy. Not only the critics in our heads, but we need a kick in the seat of the pants every once in awhile. Reading your post today serves that purpose.

Let's all wow them at M&M this year!


Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Linsey,

GRW has some very talented ladies and a lot of them are in PF&HT. Here's hoping all of GRW goes well in the Maggies. But if not...there is always next year since we're women of steel and we will keep writing, keep submitting and our day will come.


Tami Brothers said...

I LOVE IT!!! Tough love with Sandy!!! I can totally see it!

Thanks Sandy. I truly needed this. I am just going into finals and I kept saying in the back of my mind, when I have a couple of weeks I'll get back to my WIP. Every time, something comes up. So, now that I have a couple of weeks coming up next week where I can actually write, all I can think about is what is going to happen to derail that plan. I guess I should be digging it out and leaving it by my computer instead of being a nay sayer!

Thanks for the kick in the pants!


Ana Aragón said...

Talk about a kick in the patootie!

So, so true.

There has never been a book published that stayed in the bottom desk drawer or locked in your hard drive, never to see the light of day.

But, dang, it's scary.