The road to publication has never been easy for me. None of my manuscripts were eagerly awaited by the publishing industry. I’ve never been wooed by excited agents, nor have I experienced book auctions where editors try to top each other’s offers in an effort to win publishing rights. Each of my three published novels meandered down tortuous paths to reach paperback form. I was always down to the very last agent, the very last publishing house, the very last chance.

Why? What normal person sets themselves up for rejection over and over again? I’m a realist, after all; there’s no part of me that expects this dynamic to ever change. Still, I keep coming back for more.

I’m not the sort of writer who faithfully sets aside a few hours every morning to write, whether or not I have anything to say. That works for many authors, and I applaud them. It’s discipline, and ideas often flow if given the time and space. For me, however, that method produces only dry words that feel inauthentic. No matter how hard I try, just wanting to create isn’t enough. I can’t write unless I connect to a story that wants to be told. But once I do, some of the characters (let’s call them “the perps”) will not let go.

Every author has beloved manuscripts that never made it to book form. I have four. Two are early efforts that rarely rise above wince-worthy. Another is a manuscript that won’t be relevant without a major overhaul. These three are easily put aside – for now, they’re content to remain as is and have nothing to share. But the fourth manuscript … these characters will not shut up. They will not let me move on until I’ve exhausted every possible avenue. They’re chomping at the bit to burst into the world, and no matter how stupid it feels to keep flogging the same old story, they won’t let me tuck them away in a drawer until I’ve edited to a high polish and been rejected by (apparently) every single publishing house on the planet.

These characters are a lot like the ones in my three published works. Those characters pitched fits, too. They pushed and pushed until finally, years (and years) later, they got their way and appeared in print.

We could call me tenacious. We could also call me foolish. Or, we could just say that I’m curious to see what happens next, why these particular characters think they deserve to be “born.” My ego can stick it out, because here’s another thing: at the end of their journeys, each of my novels found readers who loved sharing their stories. That’s what makes the slog worthwhile.