May 24, 2011


I've been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but my life has been in a 60 hour work week tailspin. While I occasionally enjoy making lattes and cappuccinos for the general public and watching other people's children, I long for the days when my writing will be able to support me full time. Or at least give me enough $ to justify leaching off the dear husband.
Anyway, the subject of this blog entry is an important one. One that I touched on a bit toward the beginning of this blog. And that is: being the last one standing. You could call it perseverance, persistence or any number of things.
A few weeks ago the dear husband and I had visitors in town. We took them to the acclaimed seafood restaurant called Hyman's, where we ate plates loaded with shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes (you don't get too much more southern than that!). I also happened to be sitting at the same table that Pat Conroy graced on one of his visits there. There was a plaque in front of my seat to prove it.

Anyway, the point of the story is that there was a card on the table. There were many cards actually. But I picked up a pale green card with this quote:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - Calvin Coolidge

This card struck me with its simplicity. The key to success is to never give up. To refuse to stop. Of course, there's almost always some manner of luck (or divine providence based on how you look at it) involved in success. But where would the world be without persistence? If we did not press on--if we never strived to make our lives better, what would our world look like?
I've known many writers in my life who have gotten side tracked. Because one simple facet of their writing life didn't work out, they lost interest and pursued other things instead. Or they halfheartedly peck at their computers every once in a while, but never with any real ambition.
The key is never giving up. Not after the first power-outage that deletes your pages (happened to the beginning of one of my very first novels), not after your first harsh critique, not after your first full out rejection, not after your tenth full out rejection. Not even after hundreds. Always strive to make yourself and your art better. Don't roll over and give up, but don't remain stagnant either. Always be working on something new. Always be returning to your old work that you know you can do better.

Phew. That was quite a soapbox. I hope this post will come across as an encouraging one. Whatever you want to excel at or whatever your goals are, take a hint from Calvin Coolidge and don't give up. You might just be surprised to find yourself somewhere.


  1. This is beautiful! Your power-outage reminded me of the floppy disc that got stuck in my computer and snapped in half, forever sending my first novel to the realm of forgotten books. Glad to see you kept going! Press on, Ryan!

  2. My first novel was also lost to floppy disk ruination! Love that quote, Ryan. I think it says everything there is to say about 'making it' as a writer. Very proud to be a part of your writing mountain climb (and to have you as a part of mine)!

  3. Ouch, lost work, I know the feeling. I lost an entire group project once because I saved it to a school computer over night. Never again, I swore. Then my laptop crashed and I lost 5,000 words and a bunch of revisions on my novel. I believe in back ups now. Lots of them.