Last week at the Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual conference my book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, won a Goldie for the Best General Fiction. Being a finalist, then winning for Disappearance was a surprise. This is my first award and it’s displayed on the bookcase in my line of vision whenever I raise my eyes from my computer. And, as I thought about what to write for my blog post, I stared at it and the word persistence popped into my mind.
Persistence? It’s Not a Mystery
We’ve all heard stories about writers and other artists who achieved despite the many obstacles they had to overcome. And, we’re probably all familiar with the following quotes or similar ones about the importance of persistence:
“Nothing in the world will take the place of persistence. Talent will not. The world is full of unsuccessful people with talent.” Calvin Coolidge
“The secret to genius is not genetics but daily practice married with relentless perseverance.” Robin Sharma
“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance all things are attainable.” Thomas Fowell Buxton
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein
When I started writing I understood these quotes and others like them to mean learn your craft, put your butt in the chair and practice your craft. And that’s what I did.
How Does Persistence Relate to the Award?
Well, Disappearance started as a romance. The first part of the book was the meeting and coming together of the couple for their happy ever after, then I skipped six years and the second part was the story that I really wanted to tell, the story of Lindy kidnapping her two daughters. When I wrote “The End” I wasn’t happy with the manuscript but I couldn’t put my finger on the problem. So I asked my publisher for an opinion. They agreed it didn’t work and recommended that I put it in a drawer and write something else.
But I loved Quincy and Lindy and I wanted to tell their story. So I circled the manuscript for a while trying to figure out what was wrong. Ultimately, I decided I’d shortchanged both parts of the story by combining them so I pulled the manuscript apart and rewrote both parts as independent books. Taking a Chance on Love, the romance, was relatively easy to write. Disappearance was hard. Not only was I breaking up a happy marriage but Lindy, the main character, is in the middle of a mental breakdown at the start of the story. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to capture the experience yet make her sympathetic. So I dove into research about the cause of the breakdown and its outward manifestations.
The romance was put on the publication schedule immediately. But Disappearance, general fiction and a tough story, was put on the back burner several times. But I persisted and eventually it was published. I never expected it would win an award.
Once Persistent, Always Persistent
And speaking of persistence, I was also told to put A Matter of Blood, the first Corelli mystery, in a drawer and write something new. But I just couldn’t let go of Corelli and Parker. After receiving about thirty rejections for an early version of that first Corelli mystery, I decided it wasn’t ready for publication. Over the next ten years, I rewrote it countless times, turned the characters around, and focused on improving my writing. When I felt it was the best I could make it, I submitted it to Bella Books and they published it. The first three NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli mysteries have made finalist lists for various awards. Legacy in the Blood, the fourth, was released this year, so we’ll see.
It’s Not a Mystery
Writing is my passion. I write what I love. I persist in the effort to improve my writing, I persist in the effort to write complicated, well-written, engaging romances and mysteries, and I persist in the effort to get my books out to readers.
What about you? What role has persistence played in your life?
In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.