Let’s start tonight’s essay with a simple question: What is the most important skill or quality a writer must acquire?
A lot of people give an answer that has to do with language. A strong vocabulary, a knowledge of punctuation. Something along those lines.
They’re all wrong. The most important skill a writer must learn to be successful is perseverance.
New writers suck at writing, and that means that people trying to read that early work are going to be critical. A writer has to get through that. They have to be tough enough to keep going and at the same time, open enough to learn what they need to improve. Writers start with a vision of what they can do, but without the writing strength to get there. Even when they’ve started writing stories that are truly good, great even, they will still receive rejections.
A lot of times, rejection isn’t about the quality of the writing. That’s why perseverance is so important.
Q: But Brian! Weren’t you going to write about your family?
I’m getting there.
A key part of perseverance is having a support system. As tough as you may be, as much as you might prepare yourself to defend yourself against the slings and arrows of rejection, no armor is complete. Rejection hurts. It’s important to have people in your life that can prop you up when others seem to be tearing you down.
That’s where my family comes in. They’re on my team. They’re my first fans. They’ve been with me every step of the way, supporting me, encouraging me. Sometimes, they even feed me. My family helps me persevere, and they are amazing.
Let’s start with Melissa. She’s a superhero. There have been times over the last 10 to 15 years where I’ve thought about giving up. Melissa has been there to put her arm around me, listen to my whining, and then either tell me to get back to writing or take a break. She’s really good at telling the difference between which I need the most. She’s my constant companion at conventions. She takes better notes than I do at the panels these days. And she reads what I write, and she tries to provide honest feedback. She’s usually biased, but she’s been able to tell me a few times when what I wrote didn’t actually work.
Then there’s Bryanna. She’s a quiet writer that’s participated in NaNoWriMo with me a couple of times. The first year we tried it together, she did way better than I did. She’s very talented, an all around artist, and a constant, quiet support.
The last of my immediate family is Christopher. He checks up on me and tries to make me laugh. Apparently, when I’m in the zone, fingers blazing on the keyboard and words flowing like water, I look like I’m getting ready to murder someone. He brings his sense of humor to bear and tries to make sure I’m doing okay. Sometimes he even barbecues burgers and brings them to me while I’m working in the garage.
My family is the core of my support system. There are other people that support me, too, but my family is always there, present, and interested in what I’m writing. That means a lot.
They help me persevere.