"Long-range goals keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures."--James Cash Penney
Sometimes you get lucky and you stumble upon great quotes without really trying. Such was how I found this one. And with the coming of the new year and the thought of new goals, this quote is perfect.
Before sharing my thoughts on Penney's quote, however, I will have to admit my ignorance. I did not know that James Cash Penney--the son of a farmer and Baptist minister--founded J.C. Penney. Now, why that wasn't obvious to me, I don't know, but it showed me once again the amazing power of the Internet when I popped his name into Google and was led to a site about famous Missourians.
Now let's talk about Penney's quote. The topic of goals comes up often in my articles for Writer2Writer. Many of those articles discuss creating to-do lists and breaking down your goals into smaller, more manageable chunks.
But here Penny focuses on the reverse, praising the benefit of long-term goals. Just yesterday, I set my goals for the first quarter of 2009. I have a lot planned, even though I know I might need to make some changes if I have to return to working outside of my home.
Every week I write a to-do list based upon my long-term goals. This helps keep me focused on the big picture and allows me to feel a sense of accomplishment when I've checked off one of the items on my to-do list.
Do I beat myself up when I don't accomplish it all?
No, and this is exactly what Penney is getting at with his remarks. Having that long-term goal in sight allows us as aspiring authors not to get bogged down when by the end of the week we haven't accomplished everything we planned to. Unexpected things happen: our children get sick, we have to work an additional shift, the car breaks down, we're just too darn tired to handle one more thing; you name it, it can happen.
But by setting S.M.A.R.T. long-range goals, we don't need to worry about it when the unexpected happens.
To find out more about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, visit my article at the Writer2Writer website. You'll find it here.
Speaking of successful long-range goals, in 2002, the J.C. Penney Company celebrated one hundred years in business. The company is still one of America's largest retailers.
"The heights by great men reached and kept Were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The above quotation comes from Longfellow's poem titled The Ladder of St. Augustine. In St. Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, literally "On Christian Doctrine", he explains how to read and interpret Sacred Scripture, providing seven steps on approaching Scripture and seven rules on understanding Scripture.*
While I won't go into the details of St. Augustine's Ladder, in this poem, Longfellow seems to be echoing the moral sentiments of St. Augustine's work.
Sometimes we read or hear stories of breakout authors who wrote a novel, sent it off to an agent who pitched it to a major publishing house, had it accepted with a nice advance, won movie rights, and is now sitting in the Bahamas working on her next novel.
But that's not the norm and as aspiring authors we shouldn't set our hopes on goals like that. Unrealistic goals are a surefire way to ensure discontent.
The aspiring author can use Longfellow's words to encourage him to keep working. "But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night." As we read in our last motivational quote by Jefferson, who spoke of hard work, we also hear from Longfellow that it will take nights of toil in order to reach the great heights we are seeking to achieve.
Don't let that hard work scare you. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.
As we come closer to the end of 2008 and the exciting start of the New Year, take a moment to discover where those nuggets of time are hiding that you can spend toiling away at your writing career. You have the power to make your dreams come true!
"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."- Thomas Jefferson
I did not perform research to discover the origin of this Jefferson quote. Gasp! I know, but a motivational quote without research is better than no motivational quote at all.
Writing is hard work...unless you're not a writer and you have this dillusion that being a writer is easy. I believe Jefferson's quote is not only helpful to the aspiring author, but also to any writer who is having a difficult time moving forward.
It is easy to find all the excuses in the world not to write. It's easy to make to-do lists and not use them. It is also easy to blame everyone but yourself when your work isn't accepted.
But it's hard to stay committed to your writing. It's hard to make the time to write. It's hard to stay focused and not let distractions and interruptions invade your writing time. It's hard to accept rejection and still keep submitting your work.
But Jefferson says that it has been his experience that the harder he works, the more luck he seems to have. While I don't think luck has anything to with it, I do believe that the harder we work and the more committed we are to our writing careers, the better results we'll get.
Take out a peice of paper and write down what stopped you in 2008 from working hard toward becoming a published author, what you can change in 2009 that will make a difference, and how you can stay focused on your writing so that your "luck" will change.
You have the power to make your dreams come true. Use it!
An inspiring, motivational, faith-based read awaits novice and experienced writers in Words to Write By compiled by Robin Bayne.
Broken down into five chapters, Words to Write By provides writers with much needed advice along their writing journey. From words that encourage and motivate, to words that help you persist despite rejections, from advice on publishing and networking, to words on success and sustenance, the reader will find herself going back to this treasure trove of helpful reflections from a variety of well-known authors time and again. With a special final chapter all about writing for Him, Christian writers will surely want to have this book by their side as they stroll along the path of their writing ministry.
Well written, thought provoking, and inspirational, even the cover art begs you to open its pages and soak up its wisdom. While at times a bit preachy, Words to Write By is certainly a gift that many writers would enjoy and benefit from.
Title: Words to Write By Compiled By: Robin Bayne Publisher: Mountain View Publishing ISBN: 978-1-932695-79-3 U.S. Price: $11.50
"Every successful writer starts out as a 'nobody.'"
Think about some of the great writers you know and love. For me the list includes: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Stephen King (how's that for a jump, prairie life and Prince Edward Island to horror), Jerry Jenkins, Michael Shaara, Jeff Shaara, and Karen White.
And yet as great as these authors are, they all started out at the same place every aspiring author does--unknown.
When you wonder if you have what it takes or if your work is good enough, think back to your list of great writers and consider what the publishing world would be like if even one of them never submitted a thing.
A writing friend, whose latest release, The Devil Can Wait had me staying up way past my bedtime, directed me to this guest article on rejection by Aaron Paul Lazar found at the Murderby4 Blog.
Rejection. Oh, how it stings. Most of us have been through it - plenty. Seeking jobs, seeking love, seeking publication for our books. It hurts. Destroys our self image. For a while, anyway. And it tears at the thin fabric in which we cocoon with our fragile writer's ego, protecting the inner belief that our work is valid.
A new writer recently emailed me after receiving a flurry of rejections from big agents. With a crushed spirit, she wrote:
"It makes no sense to me. If someone has written a book that is a good read, then why in the world would it not be recognized, published and read? The only answer that makes any sense is that it's not a particularly good read after all."
Alas, if it were only that simple. Let's step back and take a look at the situation.
Here is an excerpt from her guest article I found at Lesa's Book Critiques today:
When I decided nearly a decade ago that I wanted to write a novel, my desire stemmed from what I saw missing in mainstream legal fiction. I loved reading legal thrillers by John Grisham, Scott Turow and other lawyer-writers. It bothered me, however, that the books I read never featured female lawyers or African-American lawyers as main characters. A desire to fill that void prompted me to sit down and take a stab at writing a legal thriller myself.
"You’ve written an amazingly brilliant novel. Your tension is excellent, the suspense is fantastic, your subplots are beautifully woven together--every word, every phrase is sheer perfection.
In the begin, the reaction from your friends and family to your writing may range from curious amusement to mild enthusiasm. Months pass, your family begins referring to you in past tense. You friends call less frequently -- eventually they quit, your kids stop setting your place at the table, and dog you’ve raised as a pup begins to bark and growl every time you shuffle your feet from your desk into the kitchen for another cup of coffee. The only television you “watch” are the infomercials at two in the morning only because you’re so wound up from working out complex plots that you can’t go to sleep. But that’s okay, because this is your goal, right? You’ve raised the bar a notch higher and now you have to roll with the punches. You have no choice but to push yourself to the brink of exhaustion and push you will!"
When I logged onto my Google homepage this morning I saw this quote:
"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"--John Wooden
Wooden is a retired American basketball coach and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Winning 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, Wooden has been honored in many ways. While I have to admit to not knowing much about basketball, Wooden words of wisdom should also be heeded by aspiring authors
I've had the opportunity to interview and network with several editors over the past few years. One complaint that comes up often when discussing manuscripts and whittling down the slush pile is that there are many writers who don't follow submission guidelines. Every time I hear that, I shake my head in disbelief.
Why would you go through all the trouble of submitting a manuscript that you spent numerous hours creating if you aren't going to take the time to review the guidelines?
You can save yourself the time and energy because that has given the editor his first reason to reject your manuscript. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your manuscript is so brilliant that an editor will overlook that you can't follow directions. If you can't even be bothered to comply with submission guidelines, then why would you be any more acceptable of suggested changes to your manuscript?
Wooden's words can also be applied to editing. As a book reviewer, I am amazed at what I've seen over the past couple of years. If a book is filled with typographical errors and sloppy grammar, it can take away from the enjoyment of the reader. Don't think that you'll find every error yourself. At bare minimum, have another writer read your work; but it is ideal to hire a professional editor to review your manuscript so that it is polished when it arrives on the editor's desk.
Remember, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure you do it right the first time!
While checking out clients' stops during Day 2 of Pump Up Your Book Promotion's Authors on Tour, I stumbled upon this little gem from J.L. Miles that should provide all you aspiring authors with a healthy heap of inspiration.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO GETTING PUBLISHED
My agent is shopping my latest manuscript and let me tell you the waiting is killing me. As a matter of fact, just this morning I noticed my hair is definitely grayer than it was last week.
When she first sent it out, we got an immediate response from a major publisher and boy was I excited. They raved about the author voice and the premise. They asked if the author had another book that could be packaged with it. Then they took it to committee, whatever that means, and the next thing you know they were saying things like, “It’s not for our list after all.”
Bummer. I felt like dumping my head in the washing machine while it was on the spin cycle. That got me thinking about all the authors out there that now have N.Y. Times bestsellers. Did they ever want to stick their head in the washer? I’d call them up, but I don’t have their numbers. Plus they’d think I was crazy so I’d probably just tell them how much I enjoyed their book and not mention their washing machine.
In the video below, Lloyd discusses the challenges of research for historical fiction writers. If you're considering writing an historical fiction novel, you'll want to listen to what Lloyd has to say.
About the book: No Westerner has ever achieved Robert Hart’s status and level of power in China. Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems, and schools.
But his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine. Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese.
He also finds himself thrust into the second bloodiest conflict in history, the Taiping Rebellion, where he ends up making enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.
During his first years in China, Robert experiences a range of emotion from bliss to despair. Like Damascus steel, he learns to be both hard and flexible, which forges his character into the great man he is yet to become. Full of humanity, passion, and moral honesty, My Splendid Concubine is the deeply intimate story of Hart’s loyalty and love for his adopted land and the woman who captured his heart.
The MY SPLENDID CONCUBINE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on December 1 and end on January 30. You can visit Lloyd's blog stops at www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com in December and January to find out where he is appearing!
As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. A winner will be announced at the end of every month!
Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a lifelong resident of Western Mass and an award-winning REALTOR® with Real Living Realty Professionals in Wilbraham, MA. Her background in management, financial services, and social media marketing served as an excellent foundation for her real estate career.
Cheryl is also a freelance writer, children’s author, and editor. A 2005 graduate of Long Ridge Writers Group, she specializes in articles on time management and organization. Her first picture book, Little Shepherd, was released by Guardian Angel Publishing in August 2010. A Christmas Kindness was released by 4RV Publishing in 2012. Ms. Malandrinos has edited numerous manuscripts in a variety of genres and has ghostwritten a Christian chapter book.
So, in other words, Cheryl is your typical busy mom who balances family life and career on a daily basis while seeking to carve out a little bit of “me time.” She and her husband, Paul, have two daughters at home and a son who is married.