This week I'm talking to a couple thousand students in Missouri. And I think the most important message I have for them isn't about reading, writing or research. It's about not giving up on your dreams.
I'm not the best writer out there. But - and this is an important but - I one of the most tenacious. I think in most things in life, tenacity can be just as important as talent.
When I first started writing, I took a class with two people named Jane and Tom. They were both better writers than I was. (In fact, Tom used this one clever framing device to describe a character that I have since borrowed a couple of times.) They both approached a few agents, and both got rejection letters.
And both, at least the last I heard, gave up writing.
The thing is, those agents didn't really have the power to tell Tom or Jane they weren't good writers. All they could say was that they did not want to represent those particular books.
The only one who can really take you out of the game - whether that game is writing or acting or dancing or whatever - is you.
I have had four times in my career as a writer where it looked like I might never be published, or published again. I still have a big fat file that stinks of sadness that I labelled submissions/rejections. There are probably over 100 letters or notes with the word "no" in that file. But I did not take no for an answer. Or at least not "the" answer. I kept pushing, writing new books, tweaking old ones, looking for as much advice and inspiration as I could get.
So if you really want something, be tenacious!
(When I spoke at a school in February, a teacher came up to me afterward and said that after listening to me, she had decided to go to massage school!)