MY SUPERPOWER: PERSISTENCE by BONNIE SCHROEDER

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Bonnie Schroeder started telling stories in the Fifth Grade and never stopped. After escaping from the business world, she began writing full-time and has authored novels, short stories and screenplays, as well as non-fiction articles and a newsletter for an American Red Cross chapter.

 

I come from a family of quitters. Sort of.

Several generations ago, my family owned a farm in northern New Mexico, in the Four Corners area. Now, anyone who’s ever lived on a farm knows it’s hard work. There are no vacations, holidays, or sick leave. It’s dangerous work, and you’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

So it’s totally understandable that at some point they gave up, sold the farm, and moved on to something less overwhelming. However, the people who bought the family farm went on to discover oil there. And I’m sure my great-grandparents sometimes thought, “If only we hadn’t given up.”

I heard that story from the time I was a little kid, and it haunted me. So when I became a writer, I swore I would never give up or give in to discouragement. I would become a published writer.

Life intervened in unexpected ways, and I had to put my dreams on the back burner for a while, but I never abandoned them. I kept writing, if only in stolen moments on a commuter van traveling to and from my job.

Writing is hard work, and you often must sacrifice other pursuits, many of which are easier and more entertaining. Your friends look at you funny when you tell them you’re skipping the movie so you can work on your novel. Sometimes I’d wonder, “Is it worth it? Who will care about this book anyway?” The answer, of course, was “I will.”

I finally finished a novel, and I even found an agent. Yay! Mission accomplished!

Ooops, not really. My agent was very determined; she got me rejected by all the big publishing houses, until a junior editor at the now-defunct Zebra Books took a liking to the novel. We talked, she suggested a few changes, and I was almost done revising when my agent called. The junior editor’s boss overruled her. No publishing deal.

My agent briskly told me to write another novel— “a mystery this time.” I did. She read it and dismissed it, telling me “that theme isn’t selling right now.” And she gave up on me.

But I didn’t give up. I wrote another novel, and after years of workshops and revisions, I began sending it to agents and to publishers who took unagented work.

I sent 167 query letters over six years before luck landed me at Champlain Avenue Books (well, luck and my friend MM Gornell, a fellow member of this blog.) And after all that time and all that angst, before I could even catch my breath, Mending Dreams came into being—and into bookstores.mdfrontcover-web

I was tempted a lot of times to give up, but that family story stuck with me, and I didn’t want to be the one who walked away and let someone else reap the benefits.

You hear all kinds of slogans on this subject: “Winners never quit; quitters never win.” But in my case the slogan took tangible form, and I’m here to tell you that you CAN achieve your dreams, if only you keep trying. Sometimes just hanging on for that extra day, that extra mile, that extra page—it can make all the difference.mountaintop

I’m putting my words to the test again, working on a new novel—the most challenging one yet. But it’s easier to keep going now, because I know I can do it, and I know that I have to.

Have you ever been tempted to quit writing because it can be so hard and sometimes so discouraging? Did you persist? How did you motivate yourself to keep going?

 

10 thoughts on “”

  1. What an inspiring post, Bonnie. Wow. An oil well!
    But if they would have stayed and struck it rich, you would be rolling in dough now and not interested in persevering, OR you would have bought your own publishing company, OR someone would be writing ABOUT you.
    And MENDING DREAMS would never have happened!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jackie. You’re right; I probably would have ended up with some dissolute lifestyle, eating bonbons and watching soap operas, LOL!

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  2. That is the inspiration everyone needs no matter what they want to do. Too many people listen to the ones who gave up or the ones who don’t want the competition. How nice you listened to your dreams and made them come true. And there are more out there for you. That mystery sounds like maybe you should dust it off and see what lurks between its pages. Thanks for giving us all that little push to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad the post resonated for you, GB. As for the mystery–maybe I’ll seek my fellow bloggers’ advice one of these days on how to make it work in this day and age.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gosh, Bonnie, do we (I) enjoy hearing your story! Never, never give up is such a true and powerful message. The oil well story reminded me of hubby and I selling our condo in San Jose right before the bay area housing boom, and me deciding not to buy Amazon way back when…

    I’m trying to envision you eating bon bons (smile) So glad you persevered, you are an excellent author and should be so proud of your accomplishment! Bravo–and I’m inspired to move forward. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jack. Yes, keep drilling for that oil; you’ve already tapped in to quite a bit of it, creatively speaking. Maybe I should dredge up that mystery and take another shot (pun intended) at it. Or give it to one of you guys to clean up and modernize. . .

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