At the San Francisco Romance Writers' meeting Saturday I got to talking with Beth Barany about the one thing that makes writers break into the industry over others. She said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that persistence and dedication are what make a writer successful.
I completely agree. All you have to do is take a look at the slew of blog posts about rejection and eventual success to know writers have to be The Little Writer That Could in order to finally make it to their publishing destination.
I'd take it a step further. I think Donald Maass was on to something when he wrote The Fire in Fiction. He says (again paraphrasing) that there has to be "something" unique about your book...a fire...that lights your characters and your stories brighter than the others flooding the market. But how do you contain that fire? And how do you draw people in?
Look at any popular figure in the music, television, or movie industry and you'll find the answer.
Why does Angelina Jolie garner so much more attention than, say, Katherine Heigl? I dare say it's the FIRE within her that people are drawn to. Whether it's strutting the runway, gazing at her man, or working in the field, flaming passion sparks from Angelina Jolie.
You want to be around her. You want to listen to what she has to say and maybe, just maybe, pick up on some of that excitement and passion that's flowing off of her in waves. I'm not saying Katherine Heigl isn't beautiful, because let's face it, she's drop dead gorgeous...but the pull to watch her in life or on the screen isn't the same.
She's beautiful and a great actress and also does great things for those less fortunate...but she's...plain? Is that the word I'm looking for? Can you see the difference too? There's just something less interesting...
Now look at Eminem...he's rocked the music industry time and time again. What does he have over all the other talented rappers that keeps people (myself included) coming back to his work?
It's his FIRE. It's the desire burning deep down in his core fueling his lyrics. If you listen to his music at all (and if you don't, you should), you know he's talented...but it's more than that--there's thousands of talented rappers out there waiting to make their big break. It's the pull to him that makes him the star he is.
I guess what I'm saying is that if you want something bad enough, so bad that a spark of an idea gets ignited into something larger, and you keep fueling that fire with positive energy, hope, determination, then the fire will emit from you too. People will be drawn to you as much as your work. (And believe me, I can attest to this after RWA National where I saw many a fan girl drooling over Nora Roberts or Eloisa James.)
Writing is no different.
Life is no different.
Beth Barany was right--persistence and determination get you far. Angelina Jolie sets an example of how to be known--rock the boat, work hard, and look smokin' hot doing it. And Eminem, showing no fear, did whatever was necessary to reach his goal.
If the passion is in your heart for being a published author, your words will be fuel on the page...and people will take notice.
At least that's what I'm hoping as I start plotting the sequel to Enemy, Beloved. Two years ago next month I started writing. I definitely feel the burn to write, edit, and become a part of this bustling industry...now I guess others just have to believe in it too. I'll keep you posted on how my little theory plays out.
What about you? What one thing do you think makes a writer successful? Voice? High-concept material? Luck? Timing? Determination? Fire?