“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”
~ Charles Spurgeon ~
As a writer, I know if I don’t persevere I will never succeed. Rejections can destroy even the best of writers. Yet perseverance didn’t come naturally to me like the snail gunning for Noah’s ark. He knew if he didn’t keep going, he would never reach his destination. Maybe he even sensed the impending flood.
The summer I learned to persevere I was 21, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
It was my best paying, yet toughest summer job ever. Not only was it physically challenging, but emotionally draining as well. There were days I didn’t think I could survive the summer. Days when I didn’t want to survive the summer. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. If you ever sold anything door to door, you know what I’m talking about.
Maybe you’ve heard of the SouthWestern Co. Maybe you’ve had a college kid knock on your door. Maybe you’ve bought the books. I remember my first few hours in a new city, before I knocked on a single door. There were four of us girls assigned to Everett, Washington, a city we’ve never been to. We had some money in our pockets, a car, and hearts full of fear and excitement.
For some reason, I was dropped off to look at an apartment while the other girls went who knows where. I remember the neighborhood wasn’t the nicest and neither was the apartment. This was before cell phones and the sun was setting. I didn’t have a way to contact my friends, and didn’t know if they could find their way back. As I walked through the dingy apartment, I broke down and wept. For about five minutes. Then I dried my eyes and got down to business.
I don’t really remember what that business was, but I survived that first summer practically homeless, jumping from hotel to rented room every week or so, and getting out early every morning to knock on doors and sell books.
Despite the grueling hours (sun up til sun down and beyond, six days a week,) and the isolation (out for hours on end, knocking on doors by myself without a car,) and countless closed doors and rejections, it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the anything. In fact, it was so grueling and challenging, I went back for a second summer.
Day after day as I knocked on doors, the one thing I remembered was I wouldn’t sell anything if I didn’t persevere. It was drilled into our heads at sales school that we needed to knock on 30 doors just to sell one set of books. That’s 29 rejections!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like rejection. But I persevered and continued to knock on those doors, welcoming the “no’s” because I knew each rejection brought me closer to that “yes.”
I won many awards in my two summers and took home thousands of dollars at the end of each summer, but it wasn’t because I was a great salesman. In fact, I hated sales! But I persevered and did what I was told to do. I knocked on one more door because behind one of those doors was a sale. It was up to me to find which one.
There were times I would get a door slammed in my face and cry all the way to the next house saying “I will persist until I succeed, and when I succeed I will over achieve. Only then will I rest, because I know I have done my best.”
There were countless days I’d break down emotionally, and ask God “why I was putting myself through this torture?” and cry my eyes out. But after I was emptied of all emotion, I would get up again and do what I knew to do.
Knock on one more door.
What an incredible life lesson I learned in those two summers! And how that summer has mirrored my writing journey these last seven years.
Having gone through that, I know I can do anything as long as I persevere. Even my writing goals are not out of reach. No matter how many rejections I receive, I just need to keep persisting and learning and doing what I know to do. With each rejection, I learn and grow and get better. I don’t know how many publishing houses I have to knock on before I sell my next novel, but even if I surpass 30, I will persist until I succeed!
How about you? Are you willing to do what it takes and knock on one more door until you succeed!
Gina Conroy is founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she writes fun, quirky mysteries full of depth. Her first book Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.