Cowboy Up!

Kentucky Cowboy 200 300It’s easy to get discouraged as you live your life. If you are a writer whose goal is to publish, your life may be filled with rejection and frustration. In the past, it was worse with traditional publishing. In today’s self-publishing world, you can control what and when you upload to ebook vendors. However, when your sales stagnate or fail to take off, you often experience the same disappointment as you did when you received a rejection letter.

In 2001, Steeple Hill author Renee Ryan and I gave a talk at RWA in New Orleans. Entitled “Perspective, Passion & Persistence: the Three P’s of Success,” it was our twelve-step guide designed to help writers ‘stay the course’ in the world of publishing, whether on the verge of publication or experiencing a ‘dry spell’ after a book sale.

One of the three “P’s” was the word “persistence” (synonyms: persevere, remain, endure, stand, abide, plod, and continue). We presented examples and we offered quotes from famous people about persistence.

My favorites quotes were from Rick Pitino’s Success is a Choice: Ten Steps to Overachieving in Business and Life. Broadway Books, 1997. (Rick Pitino is the basketball coach for our beloved champions, the University of Louisville Cardinals.) Here’s what he said:

“It’s persistence that makes you great. It’s persistence that allows you to reach your dreams. It’s persistence that enables you to perform at your fullest potential.”

“Sometimes of course, we fail to accomplish our goals. But we have to remember that failure is a part of life and failure is only fertilizer for future success.”

“The only time failure is truly bad is if you use it as an excuse to quit.”

I once found a term that struck me as being just right for a writer. Cowboy Up!

It means “when things are getting tough you have to get back up, dust yourself off and keep trying.”

I practice the same philosophy when horseback riding. The times I have fallen from a horse as an adult, I’ve picked myself up and climbed right back into the saddle.

The next time I’m discouraged and frustrated, I’ll remember to Cowboy Up!


  1. Publishing requires a lot of cowboying up! It’s so nice to see so many of the Gemsters doing just that, though.

  2. Hello, Jan. Lovely bookcover and wise words about persistence. I like your 3 P’s of Success — Perspective, Passion & Persistence. I think the one that usually gets short shrift from most of us is Perspective.

    We all have passion and we all persist — sometimes long past the point at which we should have shifted focus. *g*

    But many of us lack Perspective and only find it when the universe hands us a wakeup call that makes us focus on what’s really important. There are so many more things far more important than rejection letters or stagnant sales. A friend has been diagnosed with an unusual, life-altering disease. One of my daughters has been in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices more in the last few years than most people ever experience in a lifetime.

    I think if we all did a little perspective accounting each morning, we might not worry so much about the day to day matters.

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