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The dictionary defines tenacity as “the quality of the state of being tenacious, as in persistence.” When a person is tenacious they hold fast to things and are not easily pulled apart.


photo by Catherine Castle

We’ve taken a number of trips this year and on each one we have driven past trees growing in sheer rock. Not a speck of dirt to be seen on the sides of the cliffs that harbored these trees and shrubs. No visible sustenance to feed plants. No easy route through loose dirt for the roots to delve into. Yet these trees survive, which is no easy trick. I know because as a gardener who gardens in sand, I have trouble keeping plants alive. I couldn’t even begin to plant in solid rock. Yet these trees find a crack, a foothold for their roots, and, somehow, manage to grow.

Since I’m always on the lookout for blog material, I decided on the first trip I would try to get a decent shot of a tree growing from the side of a cliff.  I thought, “What better picture to illustrate tenacity than a tree growing out of a rocky cliff?”

I won’t tell you how many pictures I took from the inside of the car as we sped down the interstate at 65 miles per hour, running my phone battery dead in an attempt to get one decent shot of a tree shooting out of the side of a cliff. Suffice it to say, four trips later I finally got a picture that satisfied me. Had I thought about it, I could have turned the camera around and snapped my picture, because I was determined to get a photo to go with my blog. However, that wouldn’t have been as interesting as the tree.

I think tenacity is interesting. Being tenacious is more than pure stubbornness and more than just refusing to do something. Tenacity, as in “not easily pulled apart,” implies strength. This stick-to-it-attitude makes humans follow through on whatever we’ve started. Tenacity gets us up in the morning and out the door to work. Because of tenacity we hold on to someone we love and we fight for causes dear to our hearts. Tenacity is what spurs us on when we’d rather sit down and give up.

Writers are one of the most tenacious sets of people I know. We face rejection from editors and agents time and time again, yet we keep sending out our books. We often face bad reviews or bad sales, but we keep on trying. If one book doesn’t sell, we hope the next one will, and we start the writing process again. In fact, we often write the second and third and fourth books before our first book is even sold. We spend copious amounts of time marketing and doing social media because we have been told that is what sells our books, so, tenacious beings that writers are, we market, we write, we market, and we write some more.

From the day I wrote the first word of The Nun and the Narc to the day I sold the book nearly 10 years passed. Without tenacity I’d have thrown the manuscript away the first time it got rejected in 2004.

Was it worth the wait? You bet! Would I do it all again? Yes! In fact, there are a few more books waiting in the wings to be finished. So, I guess I’d better get back to them. Somewhere an editor is waiting to say, “Yes,” to those books, too.

Do you have your own tenacity story? What thing or things have you held fast to in life or in writing?