Perseverance has its limits.
The way to face the wall of obstacles is not always to pound on it until there’s a breakthrough.
Sometimes when we step back, we spot a doorway in the wall, or a ladder over the top. It’s not right in front of us, but off to the side. Where we hadn’t even been looking.
Sometimes we have to step way back to see it.
Tunnel vision can lead us to think that there is only one way, only one chance, only one road. It’s this dream agent or nobody. It’s this grant, this book deal, this story, this gig, this conference, this editor, or all is lost. It’s now or never.
But that’s rarely true. There’s a difference between the “now or never” pep talk that rouses us out of procrastination or laziness or fear of failure, and a “now or never” urgency that makes us pin all our hopes on one shot. The former may help us move forward, while the latter can close our eyes to the full range of possibilities.
Sometimes something isn’t working because it isn’t meant to work. It isn’t the right time, the right story, the right market, the right publisher. Sometimes we’re not ready yet. Sometimes the world isn’t ready for us yet.
There is more out there. It is possible to step away—to another story, another market, another genre. Another path. It is possible to step back and try again later. It is possible to try something different now.