“It always seems impossible until it is done.” –Nelson Mandela
South African President Nelson Mandela’s death a few weeks ago left his nation—and our world—without its beloved figurehead of ethics and morality. Despite twenty-seven years of imprisonment, Mandela always served as a beacon of encouragement in this sometimes dark world. His words, even after his death, inspire us to harbor a spirit of forgiveness, to remain steadfast, to work hard, to focus on our goals, and to always endure.
As writers, we can embody Mandela’s spirit in our own work by continuing to write and by keeping our goals of manuscript completion and publication in sight, even in the face of rejection.
I have days, like many writers, when I want to throw in the towel and quit. It would be easier to dig ditches, wouldn’t it? At least at the end of the day, you can see what you’ve accomplished. That’s not always the case with writing. Surely we may have more words on the page at the end of a long day of writing, but after a day of editing (which often involves deleting what we’ve written), we may feel like the time we spent prior has been wasted. Of course, this isn’t the case. If we stay the course, one day we can type, “The End.” If we keep honing our craft by writing and by studying good writing and craft, our work will indeed get better. If we keep submitting, one day we will be published.
What happens, then, when we’ve finished a manuscript, we’ve revised it, we’ve had it professionally edited, and we’ve finally had it published? Are we finished? Of course not! We are writers, after all, so we pull up a blank page on our screen, and we write.
Mandela knew that persistence was key to success. He knew that staying the course was the most important thing, even in the face of disappointment. He knew that a positive attitude in even the worst of times and places would see him through. He knew there is much work to be done, and that now is the best time to do it.
“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” –Nelson Mandela