Why Everybody Advises Newbie Writers to Be Persistent

waiting for mouseThis is our master bathroom – and Jackson waiting for a mouse.

All night and all day.

See, the bathroom cabinet there has a space in that overhang at the bottom. I can just fit about half of my hand in there, before the pinch stops me. I know this because I’ve tried. Just a few days after we moved in, I dropped the lid to a little sparkly beaded box from India that I store my belly-button jewelry in. The lid hit the floor, bounced exactly right (what are the odds?) and went up and into that space under the cabinet.

Gone forever, unless I want to tear out the cabinet.

See, the inside of the cabinet is all solid-state – even if you pull out the drawers, etc., there’s no access to the space beneath. That bottom panel is firmly affixed. Short of using a crowbar, I’m not budging it.

This also makes it a perfect escape hatch for mice being hunted by the cats.

The kitties diligently stalk and capture any mice so foolish as to steal into our garage to nibble on our valuable stuff, which is great. They then bring their prizes into the house, possibly as tributes for us, but more likely to extend the very fun game of mousehunt, which is less great. Jackson, in particular *loves* to let them go, so he can chase the mouse again. Sometimes they escape.
And this is where my point comes in.
Jackson is the most persistent cat I’ve ever known. It’s amazing to me that cats can have such different personalities – and all cats are patient hunters – but Jackson’s primary trait is persistence.
If he wants to be on my lap, he will jump on my lap, over and over again, no matter how many times I scoot him off, until he wears me down.
He fully believes he should be able to walk on the kitchen counters. He’ll sit there and cringe, hating that we squirt him with the spray bottle, but refusing to move. If we physically move him, he’s back there again as soon as we turn our backs.
I woke up in the middle of the night to visit the facilities, as one does, and found both kitties in there, watching the cabinet. In the morning, Isabel had gotten bored and was napping, but not Jackson. He remained fixated and alert. Not one to miss breakfast, he took a quick break and returned to the bathroom where he remained all day. He napped sometimes, but lightly, ears up to catch the slightest sound. He never gives up.
And he always catches his mouse.
This is what we mean, all of us writers, when we are asked what advice we have for newbies, when we say “be persistent.”
I know that this likely seems like empty advice. After all, pretty much everyone says it. It sounds like we’re saying “Yeah, you’ll get rejected fifty-thousand times and it will be like the pain of diving into a swimming pool full of razor blades, but suck it up and quit whining – you might get lucky some day.”
It sounds like that because there’s some truth to it. We all know that pain.
But, in truth, what we’re trying to tell you is: that goddam mouse has to come out at some point. If you’re not there to catch it, then no mouse for you. Doesn’t mean you won’t get other opportunities to catch mice – there’s always more opportunities. What it means is, if you have a mouse cornered, stay on it. It’s right there.
Yours for the taking, if you don’t wander off.
Never surrender!

4 Replies to “Why Everybody Advises Newbie Writers to Be Persistent”

  1. GREAT blog post! You know I love almost anything with cats. Fave line: “If he wants to be on my lap, he will jump on my lap, over and over again, no matter how many times I scoot him off, until he wears me down.” [TOTAL ACCURACY]

  2. Very well said. I need some of this persistence- would Jackson loan me some of his? I get tired of waiting for that damn mouse!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *