When The Gallop Takes Over

For the past couple weeks the Deadline Dames have been blogging about How We Got Published. We’ve had:

* Dame Devon: How I Got To Where I Am
* Dame Jackie: My Path To Publication
* Dame Rachel: The Echo Of My Own Voice
* Dame Keri: The Long Road To Publication
* Yours truly: The Rocky Road
* Dame Jenna: An Overnight Success
* Dame Kaz: Dark Nights and Brighter Days
* Dame Toni: A Business Analyst Becomes A Novelist

There’s a lot of good stuff there, and frankly I don’t have much to add. Earning a living through writing is a chancy proposition, and certainly not one I’d recommend unless one has near-pathological persistence and a taste for punishment, as well as tolerance for manic-depressive career swings. (I’m only exaggerating slightly here, if at all.)

So why do it? Why on earth would anyone pick this way to make a living?

I can’t speak for anyone else. Why do I do this, then?

I’ve always loved writing. No, that’s not quite accurate. I have always written, ever since I can remember, and sometimes I love it. More often, I write because I am in the habit of writing and I am unable to stop. I compare my urge to write to a socially-acceptable mental disease, and I am only half joking. I am compelled to write, and extraordinarily uncomfortable when I do not write.

Writing is how I’ve chosen to make sense of the world for years now. Writing was my sanity during my childhood and difficult adolescence, my most trusted friend in young adulthood and my faithful ally now. Writing was and is my constant companion, the way I chose to sharpen my skills of observation and expression, the thing that made me feel sane when the world was falling apart. (Or if not sane, then, at least, marginally more able to cope. I’ll take what I can get.)

I write because it feels good. I write because it helps me make sense of the world. I write because there is a pressure inside me, and the writing bleeds that pressure off. I get paid for writing, true–but that’s merely a recent development. My writing life has spanned a good twenty-five years, and it’s only in the last four or so that it’s paid enough to be considered a decent living.

Don’t get me wrong. I love making a living from writing. To be able to make a living from the thing that makes me feel most alive is a gift I will always be grateful for, and one I intend to hang onto for as long as people will read the stories I spin. As Louisa May Alcott once said, I have taken Fate by the throat and I intend to shake a living out of the bitch. I am determined that if my career goes south, it will not be because I’ve given up. It will not be because I’ve stopped trying.

But.

I am going to be writing as long as my body and mind permit such an activity, whether I am paid or not. I cannot not write. I literally don’t feel right if a day happens along that I don’t write. I can only think of a handful of days in the past decade when I haven’t been able to write, and most of that handful have diary entries to mark them, so I’m not sure they count. Writing is just what I do, and if it is an addiction I don’t particularly mind. I don’t know what might happen anymore when I don’t write, simply because any attempt I make not to write during a day results in extremely uncomfortable tension. I wouldn’t hesitate to call it anguish, even.

So, I write because I must. I have grown accustomed to it, it seems, much as I’ve grown accustomed to caffeine.

Yet I also write to please myself. I listen to editors who help me make a book better and I listen to Readers and reviewers, of course. But when it comes right down to it, you have to get something out of the hours a day you sit, day after day, and pour out the words to make a novel. If you’re not getting some pleasure or enjoyment out of the process, it’s not going to end well. When all is said and done, I revise to please my readers, of whatever stripe they be.

I write, I create, solely for my own pleasure. And what a marvelous pleasure it is.

When I was about twelve, I got a set of Mary O’Hara books–the Thunderhead and Green Grass of Wyoming novels. (Curiously, though, I have never read My Friend Flicka.) Thunderhead was a magnificently ugly white horse, and he could run. He didn’t care if it was on a racetrack or with the herd. When he decided to, something would go off inside him, and he would shift into a curious, floating gallop and leave everyone else in the dust.

This made quite an impression on me. Because every day, when I am writing, I feel like I’m doing the thing I was made for. I feel like Thunderhead probably felt when the explosion happened inside him and the gallop took over. Making a living from writing is damn fine, and I don’t ever intend to stop. I’ll do it as long as the Readers let me. Still, like Thunderhead, I don’t care if I’m at the racetrack or a city street, a meadow or a canyon or the surface of the moon. Every day, that explosion goes off inside me…

…and I write. I really can’t see doing anything else.

For what it’s worth, that’s the clearest explanation I can give of why I do what I do. Your mileage may vary. The world is an odd place, and we are forced to make sense of it in whatever way we can. Mine is with words.

What’s yours?

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Events! And Cold Comfort.

It’s Monday, and another scorcher. I spent my Sunday putting together an Ikea dresser. I triumphed, but just barely. Between the dresser and rock climbing, my knees look like hamburger. I could, i suppose, stop using my knees to brace myself as I clamber up the wall…but I doubt that’s going to happen.

Anyway. There’s an interview with me over at the Book Mogul. And this Thursday at 7pm I will be signing at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powell’s! Come on by, if you like. I will be reading from Defiance, the Strange Angels book that won’t be released until spring 2011. So now’s your chance to hear a little of What Happens Next with Dru and her (occasionally) merry crew.

Things have calmed down immensely. There’s a sense of the storm being past. When you decide to no longer deal with someone who creates drama like a thunderstorm creates lightning, there’s a certain relief. I can deal with the guilt of not being able to help –I did literally all I could, and not only am I at a loss to figure out what more I could do, so is everyone else involved in the situation. In other words, things didn’t go belly-up for any lack of work on my part.

Cold comfort, maybe, but you take it where you find it.

And with that, I’m out. See you later, alligators.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

That Dreaded Syllable: Saying No

Recently I’ve been asked about writing advice that isn’t geared specifically toward new writers or those looking to “break into” print. It’s not often I write about those further along–because careers, like people, are pretty unique, mostly, and any advice I’d be able to give might backfire terribly in someone else’s arena. But I figure what I’m about to say is Reasonable Life Advice as well as Publishing Advice.

My Friday the 13th started about 24 hours early. The 12th was one of the more bizarre days I’ve ever had in my life, and that’s saying something. I’ve found myself today having to say no, in both personal and professional (albeit completely unrelated) situations.

This is not easy.

In the first place, I was raised not to say no when someone pressed an emotional hot button–something like “I need you now.” My only value was how compliant I was, and I was trained well and thoroughly that compliant was what I needed to be to survive. For years it has been extraordinarily easy for anyone I cared about to get pretty much anything they wanted out of me, just by appearing needy or in-crisis enough. Now, taking care of your friends isn’t a bad thing–but you need to be cautious who you call “friend” if that’s a commitment you want to make.

If it’s very distressing for you to say no, you can bet a certain type of person will sense that. And a series of painful games may begin, with you trying to make this type of person happy and avoid saying no. And it can’t be done. You will be sucked dry like an orange slice, and they, flush with stolen vitality, will find another victim. It’s wreckage waiting to happen, and it happens every day.

As a female, too, it’s presumed that I don’t say no. It’s difficult for me to outright refuse someone, especially in high-stress situations. There’s a huge weight of cultural disapprobation involved in a woman saying “No.” Over and over, in many implicit and explicit ways, women are told that it’s necessary to play along, be gentle, be nice, spare everyone’s feelings. And God forbid you should say “No!” and stick to it, or listen to the inner voice that warns you of danger. Then you’re a bitch.

When it comes to working in publishing, another layer of uncertainty and pressure is added. If you say no, there’s always a chance you won’t be invited back. To be a writer is to be a freelancer, and to be a freelancer is profoundly unstable. Every “no” must be weighed against the damage it could do down the road.

You’re beginning to see why a “No!”, whether diplomatic or not, is an act sometimes fraught with danger.

Most often, my “no”s are part of a long process that involves me taking several barometric readings. In the case of a personal no, I usually discuss things with a friend I can trust. I tend to “chew it until the flavor’s gone” and agonize over how hurt someone will be if I say that dreaded single syllable. It takes a lot to make me close up and stop giving.

When it comes to saying no in the writing world, I have to balance the prospect of possibly not getting paid against the trouble the job will take, and how I interact with the editor, and a whole host of other issues before I even get close to saying no. I also often run a prospective “no” past my agent, partly to check in with the longer-term plan for my career and also to get her opinion on the best and most diplomatic way to refuse. It takes a while.

A great deal of my life lately has been saying no in small ways with people I trust. Just to check out what happens when I do so.

And you know, I’m discovering the damndest thing: most of the time, a no given in those situations isn’t really a big deal. The person you say that dreaded single syllable to shrugs and goes on to star in their own life movie. It doesn’t make the sun go out or the world end.

But in the last twenty-four hours, I’ve had to say no in a personal situation where I’ve felt unsafe to refuse, and yet compelled to do so. All my emotional hot buttons have been pushed, and the fact that I was also agonizing over saying no in a professional situation just made it worse. (I should stress again, the two events were in no way related. Except temporally. Bad luck, that.)

It’s been incredibly difficult. I’m fighting against my conditioning, my upbringing, and fighting in the face of a very real fear to say “no” and stick with it. My friends–those I can trust, those who I’ve practiced the little tiny “no”s with–have closed around me like a protective wall, each in their own warm way. I am told over and over again that it’s OK for me to draw my boundaries, that I am not, in fact, crazy, that I have a right to protect myself, and that they love me just as much as ever.

But it’s still tremendously difficult. And the fact that I care for and want to protect the person I’m having to refuse is extraordinarily painful.

Saying no professionally has consequently been more upsetting than usual. It may mean I don’t work with a particular editor again, but it’s a chance I have to take. I pride myself on giving my editors what they need, and I try very hard to be reasonable to work with. Having to refuse, especially when it’s really nobody’s fault and just a mess-up, is utterly crazymaking, and contributes to a round of professional second-guessing and doubt that makes a hurricane look like a teapot tempest.

Which leads me, in a roundabout way, to my advice. If you want to make a career of writing, sooner or later you will have to say “no” to something. Spend some time thinking about saying no. What it means to you to refuse, if you can do so with little angst or if it’s a hot-button issue with you. Figure out how to do it gracefully, figure out if you need backstops and people to talk to before you actually utter the dreaded syllable. Cultivate those habits and the comfort with that one little word now. Being unprepared when the time comes to say it is very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I can only imagine how badly I’d feel if I hadn’t been working on this very issue for months.

Now I’m going to go do some deep breathing. And, my dear Readers, if you can, help me out here. What helps you say no? Have you found a trick to it? Do you agonize over it, or is it no big deal to you?

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

By Yourself

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. Check out Readers On Deadline and Dame Toni’s excellent post this past week!

Writing is a lonely job.

Yes, you have to deal with people. You have to be personable and professional. You do have to know how to deal with editors, agents, fellow writers, and fans. You go to conventions, you go to signings, you use social-networking because marketing means you must. But that’s only a small (albeit significant) part of a writer’s career. The icing on the cupcake, as it were.

The rest of that cupcake is you and the words. You, sitting in front of your typewriter or keyboard, you with the pen in your hand and the blank paper in front of you. You, you, you.

Nobody else.

This is why I say writing is a lonely job. Even while collaborating, YOU have to do YOUR part of the work. It doesn’t get done by itself. YOU need to carve out time to get YOUR work done. You need to make sure you have the emotional and physical resources to spend on the writing–because writing, like any other activity, takes energy. You must fill the well you’re drawing on, or you’re courting burnout. Which is no fun.

Writing, like any creative endeavor, requires a certain amount of solitude.

We all know about the lone, creative artist. Solitude is an important route to creativity; indeed, research on creative and talented teenagers suggests that the most talented youngsters are those who treasure their solitude. However, the artist in all of us must risk disconnection, for forging a happy and worthwhile life—and navigating through that life fully and gracefully—is itself a creative act. –Ester Buchholz, Psychology Today

Yes, I have a point. I am edging my way toward it, because you’ve all heard me say this before. Here it is:

If you want to have a long-term sustainable career as a writer, a critical component is prioritizing the time you need not only to write, but to be alone with your thoughts, alone with yourself. Solitude is not a luxury, it is a necessity and prerequisite. The responsibility for getting it is yours.

Writers, especially women writers, are used to mortgaging bits of themselves. There’s the day job, and the kids, and the Significant Other, and the bills, and the minutiae of daily life. It’s easy for writing to get lost in the shuffle, to fall through the cracks, for you to say “I’ll get around to it when…” When the dog gets better, when the kids grow up and don’t need me, when the grass doesn’t need mowing, when the groceries don’t need to be picked up, in a little bit, tomorrow, not today, some other time.

These are the little nibbles that eventually end up killing our souls. Or less dramatically, killing the strength and time we need to write.

Did I feel guilty when I ignored the laundry so I could finish a book? You bet. Did I feel terrible each time I was interrupted during a crucial scene by a diaper emergency or some other damn thing and I felt a flash of resentment? Yes. Do I even now sometimes feel like a bad mother/person because I do things purely to keep myself awake and alive (in Peter Gabriel’s words), when I should be sacrificing every moment and every waking thought to someone else’s needs? Sure. Do I feel bad that I’m apparently such a selfish bitch that I sometimes need ten minutes to myself? Oh, hell yes.

I’d feel even guiltier if I let the writing slide. I don’t have the luxury of stopping now, because I’m a single mother and this is how I support my kids. In order to work effectively and turn out books some people (apparently, so far, knock on wood) want to buy, I need certain things. One of those things is a certain measure of solitude. I have skirted the edge of burnout and found out it’s not a place I like to be; it interferes with my ability to meet deadlines. So, even if it takes barricading the bathroom door (and since I’ve had toddlers and I still have neurotic cats, actual barricading is sometimes necessary) I’ve learned that taking some solitude is a necessary evil.

Bukowski once remarked that he needed solitude the way other men needed bread. I am not nearly the misanthrope he had the reputation of being, but I understand the principle. I have had to fight not only against the needs of people I’ve lived with, friends and companions, but against my own feeling of selfishness when I say, “No. I need time for myself.” I engage in the battle because writing matters to me, and having the time and energy to write matters to me. (Not least because it’s how I pay the rent.)

No day is so busy you can’t set aside ten minutes to write. Ten minutes of effort every day is better than saying “I’ll write for hours tomorrow, or the day after, or when this crisis is over, or when I have time…” Don’t weekend-warrior it. Little chunks of daily effort will help send the signal to yourself that you are serious about this writing thing, and that you have a right to be serious about it. That you have a right to do something you love for a small amount of time each day. This can be a stepping stone to larger chunks of time, or you may find out that you’d rather weave baskets or something during those ten minutes.

I should probably warn you about this, too. Treating writing as a priority (and getting in the habit of not getting derailed) has a funny way of helping you enforce healthy boundaries in other areas of your life. In sick systems, including some relationships, you’re not supposed to set boundaries. You are supposed to be ever available, a resource to be thoughtlessly used and discarded. Setting boundaries and enforcing them may have unexpected consequences. Someone who has depended on you to be available and self-sacrificing 24-7 may see this tiny slice of time for yourself as a direct threat. It happens, and it’s not pretty.

Not every writer’s situation is so dire. Your true friends will understand when you occasionally say, “Not now,” or “Not today.” They will feel a momentary disappointment, but then they’ll go on to star in their own lives for the rest of the day. Most of the time, pretty much everyone you say “no” to on a daily basis will get over it. Your own feelings of “I should, I should” are much more insidious, much harder to deal with, and much more dangerous.

In the end, you are the only person who can decide how much solitude you need, how important it is, how to get it, and what the consequences are likely to be. You are the only person who can decide if it’s worth the price, the work, and the effort. This is a lonely job, but at bottom it’s not really any lonelier than the choice you make to keep getting up in the morning and going into an office or to any other job. It’s just that the independent-contractor aspect of writing lays that choice a little more starkly bare.

This is all up to you.

It is indeed a lonely job. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even if it is–slowly, grudgingly, fighting through my stubbornness–teaching me how to live.

But that’s (say it with me) another blog post.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Reaching Higher

PW says paranormal isn’t dead yet. I am, of course, happy to hear this.

Here’s something that resonated strongly with me: Issendai on sick systems. Been there and done that, in retail and in relationships. I think I’ve achieved enough in the way of age and self-knowledge that I’m a little less likely to buy into it anymore. Of course, saying that is just an invitation for the Universe to whomp one upside the head. *braces self, eyes the sky suspiciously* But seriously…knowing it and naming it is a prerequisite for not falling for it. I’ve had enough of being exhausted and living with crazymaking people. I’d rather strike out on my own.

The first day of summer vacation is proceeding apace, with videogames, bicycle riding, and much relaxation for the wee ones. I remember those first few glorious days of freedom, when the entire summer stretched out in front of you, terra incognita and delicious. It does me good to see them enjoying themselves while I’m tapping at the keyboard. I don’t wish for a comparable vacation–I’d write all through it anyway. But I can live vicariously.

Climbing this morning was awesome. I tried a 5.8 I’d never tried before, and I’m starting to think with my body on the rock wall. I can’t explain it any better than that–it’s the point where your body learns what’s going on and suddenly starts moving without thought, a sort of trained instinct. It’s damn beautiful to feel. I love the solitary nature of rock climbing–even with a belayer, it’s just you and the rock face. You can’t measure yourself by anything other than yourself. For someone who hates team sports, this is as close as I’ll get to them. It helps that my regular climbing partner is incredibly supportive, and we’ve worked together enough by now that I know without a doubt exactly what she’s thinking when she’s on the wall, and vice versa. There’s something to be said for feeling the belay line tighten and knowing that your belayer has seen you’re getting tired and needing a reminder that the rope will catch you. There’s also something really nice about reaching the top of a difficult climb and hearing everyone around you cheering you on and appreciating the nature of what you’ve accomplished.

Like I said, I’m not much into team sports. But I’ll take it.

I’ve reached the last difficult point in Dru 5. It’s the point of the book where nothing seems to be working right, you’re running out of room, and the entire thing feels like crap. The only cure for it is pushing through and trusting the work to catch you, like that belay rope. Leaning back a little, looking at the holds in front of you, and knowing that it may not look like it, but you can reach the next one. You just have to go for it. If there’s one thing writing has taught me, one lesson I keep learning over and over, it’s that I can reach higher than I ever thought I could. Just going for it works out an amazing amount of the time. I suspect the Universe is built that way.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Good To Be

Want to see how the cover for the new Dante Valentine omnibus was shot? There’s a behind-the-scenes video over on the Orbit site. Pretty cool, huh? The omnibus will be out in March ‘11, and as soon as preorders are available I’ll let you guys know.

Yesterday I was pretty much an action hero. I made 10 climbs, 4 of them on 5.8s, which are about the top of my ability right now. Next week my climbing partner and I are going to attempt a 5.9, which will involve a lot more technique and I’m sure a great deal of those sharp sounds of frustration I make when I fall off the wall. But 5.9 is where the serious amateurs start seeing difference in the climbs, I’m told, so it will be challenging and fun. But that’s not why I was a hero–I took people to the airport and saved the day in a situation involving an oil change, for which I was kissed. On the cheek, but still. It’s nice to be appreciated–and it’s good to be competent.

Today is the last day of public school before the summer break, and I’m kind of glad. I miss my kids something fierce during the day. I do cherish my alone time, but it’s going to be a lot of fun to have them home and underfoot. Come September I’ll be glad of a break from having them underfoot, sure. But they’re amazing human beings and they’re young for so short a time. I kind of want to cherish every single bit of it ow that they’re both past those first three years.

The first three years of motherhood are akin to endless Navy SEAL training. Except there’s no R&R time and you can’t drop out if you want to. These little humans are depending on you for everything, and it’s a real trial by fire even if you’re prepared for it. I’m glad I did it, I wouldn’t take a single day of it back, but…I’m still glad that hill is behind me. Next come the foothills of adolescence, where I’m sure I’ll be utterly cool one day and utterly uncool and the Worst Person In The History Of The Universe the next.

“This may surprise you,” I told the Princess the other day, “but I was, indeed, your age once. And I haven’t forgotten what it was like.”

Gods grant that gives me the strength and the sense of humor to deal with her navigating those rocky waters. Heh.

And as usual, there’s a ton of non-writing work, and the writing work. All in all, I’m looking at a gallop straight for the finish line today, and will probably fall into bed exhausted.

Which, well…I like. It’s good to be me today.

I hope it’s good to be you today too.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

On Persistence

Crossposted to the Deadline Dames. I particularly liked Dame Toni’s post this week.

First news, then your Friday writing post!

* MetaFilter saves two young women from (highly-probable) international sex trafficking. A drop in the bucket…but so completely awesome, and the best use of the Internet EVER.

* Events! On Sunday I’ll be at PSU for the Ooligan Press Write to Publish event; on Tuesday I’ll be at Beaverton Powell’s with Ilona Andrews and fellow Dame Devon Monk. Details are on my events page! I know some of you have emailed me about the events but I’m swamped, I’m sorry. I won’t have a chance to answer.

And now, onward.

I’ll be speaking somewhat about this at the Write to Publish event, but I also want to talk about it here. Last week’s post was pretty metaphysical, and this one will be half metaphysical and half practical. That’s fair, right?

There are two qualities I believe are essential for a writer, when you strip everything else away. If I were to reduce being a writer to two things, these would be what I’d pick: persistence, and seeing. Today I’m going to talk more about that persistence. (The seeing post kind of cuts close to the bone, so I’m holding that back. For now.)

A lot of the practical advice I give–make time for your writing, do it every day, never stop learning, keep refining, keep writing–have their root in persistence. I find myself often returning to Matthew Hughes’s No Surrender speech, and I can’t for the life of me remember the first person who said writers must have “near-pathological persistence.” Truer words, my ducks. Publishing is a game where the more pieces you have out on submission, the more finished works you have, the greater your chances of someone, somewhere liking something enough to charge money for it.

I am naturally stubborn. (I prefer to refer to it as a survival trait.) When I started aiming at publication, failure was not an option. The situation was dire. We needed money, my kids needed to eat, and I couldn’t afford any type of child care. There are a limited number of things a woman can do in such a situation, so I picked something I’d be doing anyway–writing–and promised myself that no matter what it took, no matter what I had to learn or how hard and fast I had to learn it, I was going to succeed.

The critical components were my willingness to work hard and my willingness to learn. The right kind of steady persistence eats away at hubris. (Besides, one can only be rejected so many times before one figures out hubris is so not a trait that’s going to get you there.) I set out to be taught. I did tons of research on publishers, agents, what separated a good agent/publisher from a scam, how to behave professionally. I wrote steadily and obsessively. I did not really care what I had to write in order to get paid. I only wanted to write as well as I could for as long as I could and get good enough that someone would pay me.

I’ve caught a lot of flak for stating openly my belief in everyday writing, in constant effort. I haven’t cared much, because I know for a fact that without the daily effort I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell. If I gave up on the daily effort, I was dead in the water. And we would starve.

I don’t mind starving, but I’ll be damned if I let my kids go hungry.

I’m going to draw a metaphor here–one I heard, I think, from Malcolm Gladwell. Say you play the piano. You practice hard every day for ten years. Will you become a Chopin or a Mozart? Not likely.

But you will become the best damn piano player in a 200-mile radius, or at least close to it. Which makes it easier to get a gig. The persistent practice prepares you to take advantage of every opportunity to play for cash that comes your way, no matter how small–and each gig you play is a chance to expand your network, impress someone, and get more gigs.

You do not have to turn out a NYT bestseller on your first round. You just need to get good enough, widen your options, and persist one more time than the rejections.

I couldn’t afford to fail, and it gave me the strength to keep going after the rejections reached a stack as high as my knee. I wrote serial stories, I worked slush and submissions editing, and when my chance came–when a small publisher said, “I like your work but I’m not the right publisher for it. Do you have anything else?” I was ready.

Boy howdy, was I ready. Not only was I ready, but when the editor/publisher came back and said, “I can take this piece, but only if you make these revisions…” I was more than ready to learn how to take my revision lumps.

What resulted? A four-book contract and the start of my career. Every hard-fought inch of success I’ve had since that moment, I trace back to being ready when the call came. And I was ready because I’d persisted. True, I did not even allow myself to think there was another option. For this reason I don’t consider it bravery–I don’t think there’s a lot of bravery in having utterly no choice. Privately, I think I was stupidly lucky in not even daring to think of failure; it would have bled off much-needed energy.

You only need to persist one more time than you are rejected. Every book in every bookstore, everywhere in the world, is the product of someone who gave it just one more shot more than the number of rejections they’d received. Sometimes in life you need to learn when to give up–like, for example, when your date says no. (But that’s–say it with me–another blog post.)

Writing for publication, however, is not one of those times. Persistence does not guarantee success. But it gives you a fighting chance to be ready when the call comes, so that you can leap on your chance and grab it instead of regretfully watching it slip through your fingers.

Don’t ever give up.

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