New Years is the time of resolutions and good intentions, when people take heart at the dawn of a new year and set out to remedy all the problems they had in the last year. Unfortunately the new year fails to remain new, and as the second or third month rolls around, people begin to realize that it is just as difficult to change in 2011 as it was in 2010. So, generally speaking, resolutions are dumped and we go back to our usual ways.
I know, I know: a very depressing look at the bright new year of 2011. However, it does highlight a trait that most Americans of the 21st Century profoundly lack, and that is perseverance. It is a necessity in all aspects of a Christian's life, in "running with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1), and yet we live in an increasingly ADD society that finds sticking to any one thing an insurmountable task. In an age where video games have surpassed books, where men and women change churches, homes, and even spouses as easily as they change clothes, it's not surprising that words like "perseverance" and "persistence" are no longer popular. However, they are still characteristics that should be manifested in every believer's life, and cultivated in every writer's work.
At interviews and book signings last month I was asked several times what advice I would give to beginning writers, and my first would be to read. Writing is not something that can be done by a person who will not read extensively and well. But my other thought for writers is that if they wish to make something of their work, they must persevere. It's easy to skip from one story to another as the ideas appear fresh in your mind; it's also very easy to abandon ship when the story goes through times of bad weather, where writing is more like pulling teeth than anything else - trust me, I know. However, such flightiness will never produce a finished work, but only leave you frustrated with bits and pieces of a dozen plots.
For the most part, even deciding that your current story is dumb and worthy only of the compost heap isn't a good excuse for bailing out. You may not necessarily be wrong - your story may be dumb and worthy of the compost heap - but the only way to grow is to keep at it. I know my writing was stymied for a long time until I actually buckled down, wrote, and finished The Soldier's Cross. I will not set this down as an ironclad rule that you must stick with every story you begin, since only you can know the pros and cons of continuing the work in progress, but we should all be very cautious about scrapping one story for any reason.