We recently had a new rainwater tank installed at our home. It’s been on order for some time but that’s another story. Now we have to wait for some rain to fill it up. It seems that most of the winter rains have already been – and gone. I can see that we might have a long wait before the tank is filled up to the top. If we get good spring rainfall that might happen, but from now until April next year there is no guarantee of much rain. South Australia is a very dry place and we’ve been on water restrictions now for some years.
What has this got to do with writing?
And everything! I taught me a few principles about life – and writing.
We had to wait a long time for the tank to be delivered – more than just a few months. It was over a year. Writing can be a lot like that. From the first spark of an idea to seeing a piece of writing in print can take many months – and sometimes years. A friend of mine recently had a book published – after 27 years of trying! That’s patience. As a writer I need to persevere and learn a new meaning of patience.
Glass half full
Most of you know about the glass half full versus it half empty. Let me adapt that a little: what about a tank half full? Just a tad more water involved! I’m optimistic. I’m sure we are going to get rain soon and that it fills the tank. No amount of hoping will make it rain, however. In the meantime, I am content with the small amount of water we have. The filling will come later.
I have to take the same attitude with my writing. No amount of hoping or wishing will get my novel or story published. Sure, I have to search out the publisher who wants to run with it, but the ultimate decision is not mine to make. I have to do my part first, preparing the manuscript until it is the very best it can be, ready to catch the attention of an editor. I’ve done my part with the roof, gutters, downpipes and tank, and when that shower comes I’ll catch the water. With my manuscript I’ve researched, written, rewritten, edited, proofread and done it all again, so that when the offer comes from the publisher I’m ready. My glass/tank is almost full, and my manuscript is almost ready to be accepted.
Update: September 4th: over the last 24 hours we’ve had 40mm of rain. The tanks are almost full!
I disagreed with a piece of wisdom printed in our daily newspaper today.
‘You can’t get to the top by sitting on your bottom.’ The Advertiser, Adelaide, March 27th 2010.
In many walks of life that aphorism is very appropriate: you can’t succeed unless you are willing to get up off your butt and get working.
I believe the opposite is true – in one sense – when it comes to success in writing. You can’t succeed as a writer unless you apply your backside to a seat and start writing. I guess the meaning is still the same; it’s just the way you do it that counts.
Many people are in love with the idea of ‘being a writer’ but are not prepared to put in the hard yards, the lonely hours at the keyboard, the frustrating wait to hear from publishers and all that other stuff that goes with being a writer. They want to have written, but do not want the many hours, days, months and years or dedicated sacrifice and hard work it takes to become a writer.
So I’d like to amend that proverb so that it is true for writers:
‘You can only get to the top as a writer by sitting on your bottom and writing.’