Saturday, September 27, 2014

Persistence Trumps Talent

By Susan F. Craft

I’m always hesitant when asked to talk about the process of writing, because each author has his or her own way of going about it.

I’ve been writing professionally for over 45 years. Granted, some of it was, I told myself at the time, not what I really wanted to be writing—articles for agency publications, informational materials, speeches for the agency director. It was “my day job” that I couldn’t quit because I couldn’t get anyone interested in my novels.

Over the years, I have come to the realization that any writing hones your craft—the thought processes required to come up with an idea; the utilization of resources to research thoroughly; the time to learn correct grammar and spelling; the willingness to learn from the masters; the discipline to sit in the chair and work; the development of thick skin in order to learn from, and not resent, criticism; the humility that comes with rejection; and the absolute joy that comes when someone really likes what you’ve written and says those magic words, “I couldn’t put it down.”

A speaker at a writers’ workshop I attended made the statement, “Persistence trumps talent.”

Well, brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that I know a little bit about persistence. Over the past 35 years I’ve attended more writers’ workshops and conferences than I can remember.

Sometimes the information would contradict something I had just heard in a previous conference. This happened mostly in the area of marketing—what genres were selling, what houses were looking for, what agents wanted to see, the acquisitions editor who threw manuscripts into her sludge pile because she had had a lousy breakfast. I listened and I learned to sift through the “old hat” information and glean the good stuff, which I incorporated into my writing.

The news in the past two years has been grim. A publisher may LOVE your novel, but doesn’t think your platform is expansive enough.  In other words, you don’t provide promise of sales.

To offer you encouragement, many famous authors persisted in the face of rejections. F. Scott Fitzgerald once received a rejection letter for The Great Gatsby that read: "You'd have a decent book if you'd get rid of that Gatsby character."  Jack London’s estate “House of Happy Walls” has a collection of nearly 600 rejection letters from his early years.

My own persistence was rewarded when in November 2011, the Ingalls Publishing Group released my inspirational Revolutionary War romantic suspense, The Chamomile.

The SC Book Festival invited me to be a guest panelist. Over 6,000 people attended that event. When the wonderful reviews started showing up on places like Amazon and Goodreads, I was truly amazed and so excited. When The Chamomile won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick award, I was over the moon.

The latest and best news -- Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas will release two of my post-Revolutionary War novels next year. One entitled Laurel will be released January 12, and one entitled Cassia will be released September 14.

On an even happier note – I’m retiring in October after a 45-year career working fulltime. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this next chapter of my life. I know He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.

Susan F. Craft authored the SIBA Award-winning Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile. The two sequels to The Chamomile, entitled Laurel and Cassia will be released January 12, 2015, and September 14, 2015, by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.  She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency.


  1. Great article Susan. Congratulations on your upcoming book releases and your retirement. Looking forward to hearing you speak at our next ACFW-SC meeting in October.

    1. Thank you, Lillian. (The heroine's name in my novels is Lilyan. :-) Will see you at ACFW-SC

  2. Good word, Susan. Really encourages us writers still living on, splashing around on, Unpubbed Island! Congrats on your publishing successes now rolling in and your coming retirement. I loved The Chamomile so full of South Carolina historical tidbits as well as romance and adventure. I look forward to its sequel in January. Do keep us posted, dear friend.
    Elva Cobb Martin, President ACFW-SC Chapter

    1. You really know how to build a person up. That's a gift, Elva. I appreciate your encouragement. Hugs, back to you. :-)