I’ve always thought of persistence as being a good thing, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
However, for the past four days I’ve had a little American Goldfinch hammering on my office window, pecking away as if her life depended on getting whatever it is that she sees in the glass. And it isn’t just one piece of glass, but spots from the top of the window to low down on the wooden sill.
What makes a bird peck on a window — most claim the bird sees its own reflection, so is trying to drive away a rival. If that’s the case, this poor little bird must see a whole flock of goldfinches!
At any rate, as I rustled sheets of paper at the bird, to shoo her away, then eventually switched to the flyswatter when the paper clip slipped off and scattered a dozen sheets all over the floor, I thought about determination and persistence, and when the two become a stumbling block to moving forward, instead of a personal asset.
Writers, I think, often find ourselves in the position of the Goldfinch, determined to sell that picture book manuscript or mystery novel or whatever project it is that has taken hold of our imagination and won’t let go. Somehow, we manage to convince ourselves that our self-esteem as a writer is all wrapped up in a single project, forgetting that we have lots we could say on many other topics.
Perhaps Napoleon Hill said it best: “The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”
And my little bird? Well, she’s only attacking the window a few times a day now, so hopefully she’s realized that whatever danger she perceives isn’t really there at all.