On Persistence


by Jean Trounstine

Persistence is defined as “the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.” If you are a writer, grab on and don’t let go.

Agents once told me that BOOK A was too academic to be published by a trade press. So, agentless, I shopped BOOK A to an academic press. Then, a year and a half later when a new director of the press decided that BOOK A wasn’t academic enough, they dumped me. It took another year and a half but finally, a small reputable trade press published BOOK A. When I told that press I was considering writing short stories, they said they’d never publish them because I had no reputation as a fiction writer.

I wrote the book. It didn’t take long to get an agent. But she couldn’t sell my book. A year after we began, she told me I should move on.

I didn’t give up. I sent the book to a bunch of small pubs, ones that guaranteed distribution. A few bites but no offers. And then, finally, two years later, I stumbled upon the amazing Concord Free Press which recently released Motherlove, my book of short stories about the mothers of teens who’ve killed other teens.

Talent? Maybe. Elbow grease? Definitely. Shakespeare had it right: persistence is all.


[Jean Trounstine is a writer (Shakespeare Behind Bars, Boy with a Knife) professor, and social-justice activist. Motherlove, her short-story collection, was published by Concord Free Press March 21,2024.]