Today Samantha Tonge is talking about inspiration. You can connect with Samantha at http://samanthatonge.co.uk/ and http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/
(Samantha Tonge has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women’s magazines and her debut novel, Doubting Abbey, will be published by CarinaUK, Harlequin, this Christmas)
It’s been a long journey for me, towards getting a novel published. I first put pen to paper – or rather finger to keyboard - in February 2005. This Christmas CarinaUK publish my debut novel, Doubting Abbey. During those nine years I often doubted myself and questioned whether the life of a writer was really for me.
Amidst the tears and re-reading of rejection letters, I frequently told myself to give up – and several times I tried. However it was impossible. Like a dieter recalling the comforting taste and texture of chocolate, once I’d written my first novel I couldn’t ever forget the satisfaction I’d got from that. So telling myself that ‘this time’ would be different, I wrote story, after story, until I finally bagged an agent in 2011.
So what, during those rollercoaster years, inspired me to carry on creating fictional characters and worlds? Other people’s success for a start. Fellow writers who assured me that years out in the unpublished wilderness were nothing new and part of the price someone like me would have to pay, for learning my craft. One well-known writer kept at it for twenty years, before finding true success. Another highly articulate historian also had a number of unpublished manuscripts under the bed.
This normalised rejection for me and inspired me to carry on – just like they had. I also found inspiration in artists from different crafts – popstars who spoke of years on the club circuit, before finally getting that record deal; that drive in other people to do their best and never give up – in fact any area, whether that refers to a mountaineer heading for Everest or stroke victim determined to regain their speech.
I always say to aspiring authors ‘if I can do it, you can’ – words I truly believe. Yes, talent counts but I’m convinced the most important quality for a writer – for anyone who wishes to achieve certain goals - is perseverance. In fact, I’ve kept all of my rejection letters, neatly folded, in a bright red folder. They act as a reminder of how far I’ve come.
So if any of you have aspirations to reach a certain target – perhaps you want to write a book or train for a new career or bake to Mary Berry standards – take on board my all-time inspiring quote, by writer Samuel Beckett:
“Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Thank you Samantha