Persist we must, if our art is ever to make its debut into the world. I am part of a weekly writers’ group, and on any given week, between 5 and 10 people gather, computers in tow. Every person who comes desires to give birth to her/his writing creations, to contribute to the public sphere, to offer something of hope, challenge, or thoughtfulness to society. But these offerings don’t come about with mere wishful thinking, or showing up occasionally to write a few lines. No, the name of the game with any creative endeavor is persistence. In fact, one of the group members, a woman named Lainey, had persisted mightily in writing her first novel. Upon completion, she sent it to countless agents, all of whom rejected it. Two years later, and after 130 rejections, her work was finally accepted by a small publishing company. Just when she was about to give up hope and accept that this particular work would never see the light of day, publishing became a tangible option. But if it weren’t for that last push of persistence, her work may have remained unexpressed to the larger world.
For anyone who thinks the creative life is somehow easy, or a glorified path of self-expression, they would do well to remember that any creative birthing is much more about the difficult work of staying the course than being divinely inspired. Persisting not only when you are riding high on inspiration, but also when you are plagued with doubts, persisting when the world doesn’t believe in you, and when you fail to believe in yourself. Returning to our craft day after day, week after week, and consciously choosing to believe in our vision, even when cloudy, is the only way to transform ideas into something tangible.
The good news is, the ability to stick with our craft is a skill we can choose to cultivate, a muscle that grows stronger each time we use it. By persisting, we take a stand in owning our power and affirming that our creations want and need to be shared with others. Persistence forms habits, and habits lead to finished work. And finished work will always find its place in the world, if we don't give up.