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Inspiration for Authors
Let me start this week by saying that if you are one of those authors who gained an agent on your first try or entered Pitch Wars and was chosen and gained an agent right away or if you are already published by a major publisher, congratulations! But this post is not for you. Your story can be told somewhere else. Well, it probably won’t be told because there’s really nothing inspirational about first-try success. It’s great and I’m happy for you, but you don’t have much to offer to the rest of us.
This post is for the Rudys of the author world: those struggling to get published, overwhelmed by rejection, indie or self published, struggling to gain a social media presence. You guys, this one is for you!
There’s not much on TV to watch on Sunday mornings when I’m relaxing with my coffee. So I usually flip around and see if I can catch an old movie I haven’t seen in a while. This morning Rudy was playing. Though I intended only to watch a few scenes, I ended up watching until that final procession off the field.
If you haven’t seen Rudy, I recommend it. Maybe you have to like football to really enjoy it? I love college football, but I don’t think that’s why I sit mesmerized in front of the television and cry for hours watching this movie. Rudy captures the true spirit of resilience, effort, and what it means to chase a dream. And as I was watching it this morning, I couldn’t help but think that Rudy’s journey to achieving a spot on the Notre Dame football team wasn’t much unlike my journey to becoming an author. Sure, I’m a published author, but I still feel like I’m Rudy out there on the practice field.
With NanoWriMo coming up, I thought this might be a good time for a few reminders about not giving up on a dream. And these are my tips, Rudy-style, for dealing with self-doubt that sometimes creeps in.
Rudy for Authors: It’s All About Heart
I don’t have any experience and no writing credentials
Rudy was 5’6″ and 100-and-nothing. There was nothing about him physically that suggested he could become a college football player. He also didn’t have the grades to get into Notre Dame as a freshman, so he started at Holy Cross.
This didn’t stop him. He just worked harder. He worked harder to make up for his lack of natural talent.
If you don’t have any writing credentials, you can still be a writer. Work hard at your manuscript and make it outstanding. You can also start small and enter short story contests or submit articles for publication to build experience and credentials. There’s no law that says you have to have credentials to have your first book published.
I don’t have time to write because I have a full-time job, a family, kids…
Rudy didn’t have the grades to get into Notre Dame. He also didn’t have the money. While he took classes at Holy Cross, he worked for the stadium maintenance department. He also had to find the time to workout so he’d be ready for football tryouts when the time came. When he finally got into Notre Dame, he had to work alongside of taking classes and going to football practice
Just like Rudy, you too can find the time to fit everything in. It won’t be easy. But you can carve out a schedule. I like to use the Kitchen Timer method for writing: setting an appointment for a short amount of writing time. If you stick with it, you’ll find it becomes a habit and you won’t let other things get in the way. You might have to wake up with the roosters or stay up with the night owls to make your dream happen, but it can if you set your mind to it.
It’s pointless because I’m working so hard for nothing
Rudy put all those hours into junior college and working just to get into Notre Dame. He got there and made it onto the practice squad. Every week he put in hours getting battered and bruised, and every week he was denied a spot on the game day roster.
That’s how I feel about blogging and all my social media sometimes. I put in all this effort to post and share things, but is anyone really even listening or paying attention to it? Do you feel this way about submitting to agents or publishers? It’s pointless because all you get is rejection?
Rudy wanted to give up, but he didn’t because even if he didn’t get to run out of that tunnel, all that he had done was such an accomplishment. He needed someone to show him that, but he saw it in the end.
And whether you have a novel on a flash drive and not at Barnes & Noble or if you have a cool blog with only 20 followers or maybe you post daily to your Instagram account and only get 6 likes, the fact that you do any of this is an accomplishment. Remember that you do this because it brings you joy–it’s not a competition, it’s your personal journey. I have to remind myself of this sometimes. And you never know when success will strike. Rudy got a spot on the game day roster on the very last game of the season. So don’t give up! Keep working hard at all aspects of becoming an author.
For the Rudys of the author world, it’s our heart that will bring us success, not some big break or first-try success.
I’ll never be a famous author
Rudy played in two plays as a Notre Dame football player. Yet he had a movie made about him and I honestly can’t even tell you the name of any of the All-Americans on the team that same year.
If you self-publish or go with an indie press, you never know what will happen. Sure, it will be a tougher journey than if you sign with a major publisher, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Or even more successful than those “All-American” authors.
When I’m feeling down, I try to remember inspirational stories like Rudy’s. It helps remind me that I’m not the only one out here struggling and that it can be done. Whatever it is I want to achieve, it can be done. I just need to keep plugging away at it. There will be highs and lows, but giving up can’t be an option as long as my dream still lives within me.
So if you reach a point in your NanoWriMo quest or on your writing journey when you think it’s all a waste of time, I encourage you to watch Rudy. It will remind you that how much heart you put into your goal is all that matters.
What inspires you to keep going? What’s your writer’s journey story?
I am a YA writer and middle school teacher. I have a B.A. in English from UCLA and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently reside in Los Angeles, California, with my dog Mr. Darcy.
When I’m not living in fictional worlds inside my head, I run all sorts of distances, torture my body at CrossFit, and DVR entirely too many television shows. I dream of one day returning to the Midwest to live on a farm. Or perhaps owning a cookie delivery service.