Like a rose smelling just as sweet, that quality that keeps people chasing their dreams in the face of rejection...
Call it what you will. I like temerity. And sauce.
I have my very first rejection letter (from Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine!), which was a formulaic "Thanks, but this is not for us," along with a list of multiple-choice adjectives. Some anonymous, hard-working reader at the magazine had circled the word "opaque" before sending it back at me in my self-addressed stamped envelope.
Being in the eighth grade, I had to look the word up, and even then, re-reading my feverish and (it still gives me a pang of shame) incoherent story, I had to agree.
Nevertheless, I continued to shoot submissions into the literary stratosphere. Nobody claims it's easy; luckier yet, I had no concept that I might be resistible. Srsly.
Getting that first acceptance letter (from a tiny 'zine produced in someone's mom's basement) was nice. I should have celebrated it more vigorously, but my myopic high-school eyes were straining toward the next thing.
Later, when I'd amassed a portfolio of newspaper and national magazine stories and what-not, publication didn't seem like all that and a side of fries.
I've said that I lucked into journalism (thanks Diane Roback of Publisher's Weekly! Thank you Jon Wilson of the St. Petersburg Times!). Heartfelt gracias, Kevin Walker of the former Tampa Tribune!
I do appreciate every door journalism has opened for me. Go on –– walk right up to anyone, armed with a pencil stub and a cub-reporter notepad, I dare you! But that wasn't my dearest ambition.
A published novel, that's what I wanted. Yeah, baby –– and not just one.
Do I have any advice for aspiring writers? Yes: Polish them brass balls, puff out your metaphorical chest with self-esteem, cling to your belief in yourself, and take joy in every little victory.
When victories are not forthcoming, change the battlefield.