Quote of the Day

It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity

—            Publilius Syrus

I recently came across this quote and I thought what a wonderful reminder it is. I’m inclined to believe that anything worth having is also worth working for. Instant gratification often leaves us feeling empty inside. Deep down we all enjoy a good challenge. Well, most of us that is.

Looking back now, I can honesty say I’m elated that some of my earlier works did not end up published. It made me work all the harder to achieve my goal. In the beginning I told myself that not only did I want to be published but I also wanted to be the best that I could be. Some of my earlier works were NOT the best, even though at the time, I might have felt that way. (Who knows, maybe back then I did think I could simply “whip one up.”) I would never want to look back at my earlier efforts and cringe at the thought that others had read it. Thankfully, that isn’t the case.

In some respects I’m grateful for the way things have unfolded for me. Not only did it take time for my first book to be published but within that time I matured, not only as a writer but, as a person as well. Had my first book come out twenty years ago I’m sure I would have buckled under the pressure of readings and public appearances. I’m not going to say that it’s now a breeze but I can honestly say I like meeting the people who have bought my book. Heck, they don’t even have to buy my book. I still enjoying meeting them.

My hope is that this quote will remind everyone to have patience, patience, patience and remember that it does take a long time to bring excellence to maturity. This not only applies to writing but with anything in life.

Keep working at it, no matter what that it is, and I know you will eventually reach that excellence Publilius Syrus wrote about way back when.

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  1. Great encouragement. I agree…instant gratification leaves us empty.


  2. That is an interesting quote you chose, Laura. Much said in few words. Instant gratification = empty calories. Same idea.

    I can relate to what you said. Some things that I actually sent to publishers years ago I now think … omigosh! How NOT ready that was! and how embarrassing that I thought it was. By this time I have learned a lot and have a better idea of what ‘ready’ is, how to get there, how to present it, and so on. And one day I will have news to share with everyone. 🙂

    I think patience and maturity often go hand in hand. ‘Good things come to those who wait.’

    Thanks, Laura, for being an encourager.


    • So many of us have sent things out that weren’t ready even though at the time we couldn’t see it. I know for me it was a case of feeling as though I was going something right by sending my work out those early years. At least I was doing something positive, or so I thought.

      I do believe that good things come to those who wait and also that we learn as time goes on. It only makes sense that our work would improve over time.


  3. One must have patience to write anyway. Lately, the choice to let writing simmer while we mature is no longer ours to make. The majority of agents are scaling down and some aren’t accepting debut authors anymore. We wait and hope for a turn in the literary market. A turn for the better, that is.


    • You’re absolutely right, Tricia. Writing does require patience. Those without patience soon drop by the wayside. Sad to say but it does help weed out the serious writers from those who simply fancy the notion. (Some people actually think it’s a way to get rich..All you have to do is write a best seller….I wish!!)

      I do think letting our work “simmer” helps us see what we couldn’t see earlier. Many of us think our work is the best it can be when we first start out. We can’t imagine that we have anything more to give and yet we do. Even published authors see their work improve with time. The question might become at what point does it change from “simmering” to “stewing.” Nobody wants their work to sit and “stew” forever.

      Perhaps the best thing to do is to move on to the next project. Works are not always published in the order they are written.

      I agree, times are challenging. There are a lot of hopeful writers out there and, as you say, fewer agents willing to take on first time writers. We work away with the hope that our time will finally come.


  4. I am a perfectionist, in many many ways, and it is a big terrible thing. I make my friends and family crazy with it. I cannot imagine attaining excellence, but I do have to work exceptionally hard to do the best that I can (whatever that is, I have never found it yet).
    I do agree that to be succesfull one must have perserverance and patience.


    • Jennifer, I find it interesting that, for you, the word excellence denotes perfection. I say that because , for me, perfection is simply a matter of one person’s opinion. I don’t strive for perfection in my writing because I honestly wouldn’t know when or if I achieved it and even if I did that would simply be my opinion. If I thought I wrote a perfect short story for example, I can be sure as editor somewhere would be able to give me suggestions of how to improve it and then another editor might give me totally different suggestions.

      For me, excellence is the best that we, as individuals, can achieve and that will very from person to person. Then again, I believe our “best” is a fleeting thing, something that changes depending upon where we happen to be at any given time in our life.

      Perseverance and patience are definitely important!


  5. “It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity”

    or as Paul Masson said – We will sell no wine before its time…..

    something writerly anyway……


  6. I appreciate your comment to Jennifer because I too tend to equate excellence with perfection. I know this is what makes me doubt my writing … if it’s not perfect, I’m certain no one will like it. I’m the same with anything I do, no matter how many compliments I get … on a portrait, say … I know it’s not perfect, so I can’t honestly accept the praise.

    Of course, I know nothing will ever be perfect enough for me, so I have to deal with that. Right now, I’m a third of the way through what I hoped would be my last edit, but I keep thinking this would be better if I added this, or changed that, or maybe I should rethink the whole thing and I realize I could be writing this one book for the rest of my life!

    I don’t think perfectionists need more patience, I think we need to learn when to accept “good enough.”


    • Linda, I have seen your portraits and they are indeed excellent. In fact, I can even imagine how you could not think they aren’t. You do beautiful, beautiful work. I was blown away by the portrait I saw the other day on your blog.

      Sometimes, with writing, I think we have to say enough is enough. I also think we can edit too much. I’ve seen that in my own work, where I’ve editing a particular line or paragraph to the point where I can look at it and know I had it right the first time and my editing actually had the opposite effect. You’re right, if we get caught up in trying to make things perfect we would be editing a book for the rest of our lives.

      I think your insight at the end of your comment summed it up very nicely. Learning to accept that something is “good enough” is really the best way to go.


  7. Great quote and great post, Laura–very much in line with what I’ve been thinking on lately.

    Argh though–patience is a bore. 😉 And finding that line between being good enough and trying too hard for perfection? It’s so hard.


    • Patience is boring I agree, although necessary if we want to keep our sanity. I’m wondering, however, if the more we write and the more we have our work published, if that drive to find perfection doesn’t lesson because we do begin to find that balance.

      I don’t feel the same apprehension these days when I submit a story that I did in the beginning. Likely because in the beginning I wondered if my work would ever get published and was it even good enough. Later as magazines began to publish my work, I learned to accept the rejections for what they were and moved forward with a knowing that I would in fact be published again.



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