Tuesday’s Reality Check
When Trying Hard Isn’t Cutting It
Ray Bradbury, a great in the world of speculative and Science Fiction died a few weeks ago after living a long and full life dedicated to writing and reading. Among other things he wrote The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked this Way Comes, and the classic Fahrenheit 411.
One might attribute his success to luck, or perhaps even the ability to confidently appear on camera barefoot in shorts, sweater and tie. But that would be way off the mark. In this video clip from a few years ago, he talked candidly about his path to writing success.
Bradbury was a writing success because of what another writer, Steve Ramey, calls persperistence. Like fellow Science Fiction great, Isaac Asimov, Bradbury just couldn’t keep his hands of a typewriter (he never trusted many modern machines). He wrote constantly, undeterred by rejection.
There is no doubt Ray Bradbury had persperistence. But what is this illusive quality available to all but realized by only rare few? Ramey helps us understand the term by first making sure we understand what it is not.
Persperistence is not Insistence
Writing the same kind of story over and over while making the same mistakes is a cheap knock off of persperistence. Plowing on ahead in life, refusing to learn from the wisdom of others and one’s own mistake expends a lot of energy but offers a pitiful return on the investment.
Persperistence is not Resistance
Writing a different kind of story every week but making the same fundamental mistakes is egoism disguised as hard work. Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another. “I know what the problem is,” I say. “I just need to work hard at something else then I will succeed.” But if I carry the same basic resistance to learning from my mistakes I am doomed to sweat a lot and accomplish little.
Persperistence is not Perfection
Writing a different story each week and then refusing to submit until it’s perfect is, to put it bluntly, stupid. Allow me to let everyone in on a secret. Is everyone listening?
YOU WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING PERFECT!
Now let’s translate all of this for daily life. What is persperistence? Oh sure, you can visit Mr. Ramey’s blog and see the acronym that defines the word. If you are a writer it wouldn’t be a bad idea to print it out and tape it to your wall. But for all of us, writers or not, here are the basic things you have to do to be persperistent:
- Put your butt in the chair, hand to the plow, or whatever cliché you need to understand everything begins with someone doing something.
- Learn to embrace rejection. The only people that have never been rejected are those who have never tried anything.
- Don’t quit!Rest sometimes yes. Allow yourself a day of doing nothing but staring at the ocean, or mountains, or a good book (mine preferably when I get published). But just don’t quit.
- Live today. It has been said that too often our todays are lost between the cross of tomorrow (worries about what might happen) and the cross of yesterday (regrets for what already happened). Have dreams, plan for the future, work hard for a calling but for goodness sakes don’t waste the gift of today.
So even though you still don’t have a definition for persperistence do you think you have it? Are you willing to learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others? Can you embrace rejection, learn from it, and move on?
And most importantly can you learn to be cool enough that you don’t mind appearing on camera like Ray Bradbury for the entire world to see?