Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Never Ever Ever Give Up

by Shirley Drew

A couple of weeks ago, I read Kelly Baugh’s post titled: “Don’t Give Up.” She talked about her struggles with
writing. "I either tend to meander, going off on tangents about the scenery and side plots, or under-develop, having  played out a scene in my head so many times I can’t see it from my reader’s point of view." She encourages us to "fight, don't give up." I enjoyed that post because sometimes I do feel like giving up. With a full time job and a life outside of work, writing doesn’t always make it to the top of my priority list. My plan to become a freelance travel writer by the time I retire seems improbable. Even absurd. But Kelly’s post reminded me that we all feel that way now and then.

And when a second career in writing seems improbable to me, I find that reading stories about successful writers who also had improbable beginnings helps me to stop feeling sorry for myself

For example, Emily Dickinson. She was all but ignored while she was alive, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works. Okay, maybe that’s not the best example—at least not if you want your writing to be recognized during your lifetime.

But then most Stephen King aficionados know his story. His first book, Carrie, received 30 rejections, so he finally gave up and threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and of course, the rest is history. King has since published 66 novels and nearly two hundred short stories. Total sales for King’s books are estimated to be between 300 and 350 million copies.

And of course Harry Potter fans know about J.K. Rowling’s tough road to success. Before Harry Potter, she was a divorced singled mother on welfare struggling to get by while also attending school and writing a novel. As of 2012, the HP franchise has made her a BILLIONAIRE.

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected by 16 publishers. When it was finally published by Doubleday in 1988, the meager 5000 copies quickly sold out. It later became a best-seller for Grisham, and the eventual combined sales was 250 million.

Jack London's success is even more surprising. Though he was an extremely popular and best-selling American author of his time, he received six hundred (yes, 600) rejections before his first story was ever published. He went on to publish 55 books and hundreds of articles in his lifetime, and more have been published posthumously.

Amazing, ‘eh?

So, to reiterate...

Never ever ever give up!


Richard Keller said...

You can certainly have days where you feel the goals are insurmountable, but you exhibit your true tenacity when you can climb to the insurmountable peak and begin to see the horizon.

Okay, I'm adding that as one of my Goodreads quotes. That was good!

Shirley Drew said...

Thanks, Rich!

Sarah Sullivan said...

Shirley, you should definitely never give up! You've got what it takes and I think that your goal of travel writing in your "retirement" is entirely doable. There is a good article in the November 24th issue of the New Yorker called Late Bloom about Penelope Fitzgerald who published her first book at age 58 and went on to win the Booker Prize. Go for it!

Shirley Drew said...

Thanks for the comments--and your support!! You guys are awesome!

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