As I walked in the door of Patty’s Parlor of Pain, better known as Aarstadt’s Fitness Center, I saw this saying framed and hanging on the wall. That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do it is increased.
The dictionary definition of perseverance is--steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
At the age of eighty, a farmer's wife in Virginia, suffered from painful arthritis, and her fingers could no longer manipulate the large needle to embroider. She found she could hold a small paintbrush much easier than a needle, so she tried her hand painting. She thought her farm and country scenes were good enough to show at the Cambridge Fair, but only won prizes for her jams and canned fruit. There were no blue ribbons for her art.
One day an art collector from New York City was traveling through the village and noticed several of her paintings for sale in a local drug store. When he showed them to his friends in the art circles of Manhattan, they were more than curious. Soon, 'Grandma Moses' gained an international reputation.
Walt Disney was turned down over 300 times before he got the money to create the "Happiest Place on Earth". Today, due to his persistence, millions of people have shared the joy of Disney.
For two years, Colonel Saunders drove across the United States trying to get restaurants to buy his chicken recipe. He was turned down over one thousand times. Because of his perseverance, we get to enjoy Kentucky Fried Chicken still today.
This quote is from Kathryn Stockett’s website, talking about her best-selling novel, The Help. “It has been an incredible ride since I started writing The Help in September 2001. After more than sixty rejections from agents, I am still surprised to see The Help on a shelf in a bookstore.”
These are all stories about famous people and their success, but they weren't famous when they started. They used perseverance to achieve their goals.
We are what we repeatedly do, but it is more than that. Perseverance is about finishing. Perseverance is also about rewriting. Not just once or twice, but over and over again. If you’ve received 20 rejections for a story, maybe it needs another major revision, or maybe you need to put it away. Then write another story, or two, or three.
Perseverance is not conditional, it’s on-going. It’s grinding away at a novel, when you'd rather do anything else, even clean the toilet. It’s finishing the novel and revising. It’s sending out your work, over and over and over and, all the while studying the craft of writing so you can continue to improve.
Perseverance is hanging in there when all you want to do is hide under the bed, and perseverance pays off. It's pushing along, one step at a time, until you reach your goal.
How has perseverance helped you in your writing career or your life?