“A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
This quote is attributed to Richard Bach, but he claims he didn’t say it, that it’s just a popular maxim. I’m glad for this quote upon the receipt of a rejection letter–a nice one, as form letter rejections go, inviting me to submit additional work at a later date because the winds of change are unpredictable. What have you. I indulged in the traditional wallow, my heart hanging so low I trod its hopeful beats into the ground, and then the next day, Churchilled myself right up. You know, that other quote, “Never give up. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.” Yes, sir! Onward! Because really, what else am I going to do?! I love writing with everything that is in me. Rejections aren’t personal, and they certainly aren’t an excuse to give up. Perish that thought! So if you are reading this and you’ve been laid low by the temptation to quit whatever art you love, don’t. DO NOT QUIT. Just don’t do it, man. By all means, shlub around the house in your worst bra, bemoaning your fate. But only for a moment! There are stories to tell, and no one can tell them except you.
Here is a quote from Beatrix Potter, (saw it on Goodreads and Tumblr):
“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”
I want you to know, this is not my experience. At all. The first words of a story are fraught with danger, self-loathing, and enough second-guessing to make a superstitious man hug a black cat. The first words of a story have to hook the reader and set up that all-important first page of the story. The first page being the place where your reader forgets they’re in a bookstore and is transported to a magical place where the only thing they ever want to do is read your book until it ends, and then throw themselves down on a chaise lounge in a fit of despair because it’s over.
Like, no pressure or anything.
However, daydreaming the first words of a story, now THAT is delicious. It’s fudge-made-by-old-ladies delicious. No pressure, just dreaming, pondering, mixing all the different ways your character could strut onto that stage you’ve been building in your head. But again, here’s where I vary from Miss Potter (whom I love because she had that secret romance with Ewan McGregor in the movie and then married that younger lawyer, get it girl): I know where I want the first words to lead. I plan my stories, I plot them so hard, I track inner journeys on a hand-written chart and cover countless removable post-its with possible explosive disasters I can throw at my characters. Miss Potter sounds like more of a “write by the seat of your pants” person, which is totally fine for her and countless others. But if her quote fills you with confusion and arguments, which then lead to guilt because what kind of monster argues with Beatrix Potter about anything, you might be a “planner” type. This is also cool.
I love quotes by other writers because they show me who I am and who I’m not, but we’re all still welcome at the same party. Party on!