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Begin Again

I was in the shower at the gym when I thought of a new first line of a novel I am planning to revise. I had originally written the novel about five years ago and sent it out to readers, including my agent. It wasn’t working and there was nothing else I seemed to be able to do at the time to make it work. I put it into the filing cabinet to rest, somewhat uncomfortably, next to two other failed novels. I was discouraged and exhausted. Novels are commitments—a year or more—and I hadn’t been writing much else. Then one of my well-meaning writer friends had the audacity to suggest that I might not be a novelist after all. Why do most writers assume that they can write a novel or should write a novel? she asked. Isn’t three failed novels enough? Hadn’t I better stick to the novella form—which was my strength—articles, and long form nonfiction? Those were her rhetorical questions. She had never written a novel or even attempted a novel.

The difference between writers who get published and those who don’t is obvious: they persevere. The work has to stand on its merits, of course, and it doesn’t hurt to have a connection or two in the business, alas, but perseverance and the psychic fortitude to begin again—like London after the blitz I’ve always thought—is key. Up out of the rubble, it’s a new day.

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