When I decided to write a novel, I had no idea what kind of time I would have to dedicate to doing so. But I trudged on. At first, I wrote like hell. It was something new..exciting. And then my writing slowed down. I wasn’t sure if I had what it would take. Fortunately, my wife kept telling me that I could do it. She had read the portions that I had finished and thought it was good. But she is my wife. She’s prejudice. Anyway, I did continue and as I accumulated more and more words, I found myself on a roll. Chapter after chapter, until finally, I had written a novel. I persisted! “Tip of the Iceberg” was born. And it only took me five months. Being a ‘newbie’, I thought this was pretty good. I had no idea…
As many of my new readers have found out, I recently joined a writer’s group. I know…it’s kinda like closing the barn door after the horse has gone out.
Why? Because I joined the writer’s group after I wrote my novel. (But that’s another story for another time.)
The writer’s group that I joined is called James River Writers. It’s a fantastic group! They help all kinds of writers, both professional and aspiring, and build a community that brings writers and readers together to share everyone’s experiences. The group was formed in 2002. Among the board members is a lady by the name of Virginia Pye. She is a multi-faceted person who has a resume that is eye-catching. Not only is she on the Advisory Board for JWR, she served as chairperson for three terms. Her Masters in Fine Arts degree lead her to teach writing at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. Now, someone of this calibur, you would expect to have written many things herself. And she did. Her award-winning short stories have appeared in literary magazines such as The North American Review, Failbetter, The Baltimore Review and Tampa Review. Her acalades go on and on. But that is not why I am writing today.
Every month, JWR has what they call the Writing Show. It is attended by all genres of writers, and readers, to learn the craft from the best. The most recent meeting was entitled “The Gritty Truth About Editing”. The meeting is lead by a panel of guest speakers from all across the literary world. And, yes, you guessed it, one of the panelists was Virginia Pye. As the title suggests, Virginia was there to talk about the process of editing your manuscript. Along side of Virginia, was the person who helped her through the editing process of her debut novel, Nancy Zafris. On the other side, was the moderator of the show, and a college classmate of Virginia, Patty Smith.
These three ladies did an excellent job of discussing the editing process from how long a book should be, to what time span it should cover, how to setup a plot and follow it, and the complete storyline. But, again, I digress.
The novel that the group used for discussion of the editing process, was Virginia’s debut novel, “River of Dust“. It was published on May 14th, 2013 by Unbridled Books. It is also the Next Indie Pick for the month on May, 2013. Great accomplishment, Virginia! But it didn’t come easy. Virginia worked on the manuscript for a couple of years. It covered three generations, starting with a husband and wife missionary family in China, in 1901, and continued for one hundred years to the War in Vietnam. It was an incredible story, but it just wasn’t doing it for Virginia. Enter, Nancy Zafris. Between the two of them, they took Virginia’s story from three generationss, one hundred years, to one generation and one year. The unbelievable part…Virginia rewrote the whole manuscript…in just 23 days!
Hey, Dave! The title of this blog is Persistence!
Yes, you’re right. You could say that Virginia persisted and finally got River of Dust to print. Great! Her debut novel is being read by hundreds, no, make that thousands, of readers. But here is the Persistence part of my story. River of Dust was NOT her first book. In the past twenty five or so years, Virginia has written five other manuscripts, but never got any published. Now, that’s what I call persistence. To spend that much time writing manuscripts and never get one published is mind-boggling to me. Most writers would have given up long before they ever got to their River of Dust. Virginia is the epidemy of a writer who loves the craft. And now, her persistence is paying off a hundred fold. I feel deeply honored to have Virginia Pye as a friend, a fellow author and writer. For any aspiring writers out there reading this post, take a lesson. If you love the craft, don’t ever give up. If you have a story in you, get it out. Don’t let rejection get in the way of your River of Dust. I feel proud of my accomplishment of getting my debut novel written and to press in a year and a half. But Virginia has twenty five plus years of hard earned talent in her debut novel and it shows.
Congratulations, Virginia, for showing all of us that persistence does pay off in the end and one should never give up on something they love to do!