I admit to being one of those poor unfortunates, always throwing their hands up in despair and giving up. Later on, optimism kicks in and I'll go all out to give it another go. After all, I remind myself, if Don Quixote could go around tilting at windmills, then why can't I...I'm starting to look like 'ol Don might've looked anyway...
In today's world you can't look left or right without being exposed to yet another self-motivational sales pitch, speech or article, but you know what? I don't mind, I need the encouragement, and I suspect I'm not the only one.
There's always room for just one more "inspirational, rags-to-riches, beat the odds, don't let the bastards get you down" pep talk.
Okay, so it's best to avoid them if they're from those self-serving, self-deluded, manic "send me your money and I'll reveal the secret of how it makes me rich" con artists. Permission granted to ignore those guys, in fact permission granted to let 'em rot in their dead-of-night tv ad zones or their locked room, hyperactive $500 per head, once-in-a-lifetime seminars...
It's the genuine, proven, humble and sometimes spiritually enlightening true stories that I'm really referring to, and which serve us best when we need a lift without feeling that we're being conned and conning ourselves in the process.
The good news is that the genuine underdog-makes-good stories are out there, we just have to wade through some crap in order to find them.
Most writers, and readers, have heard the story of how John Grisham's first agent spruiked his early novel 'The Firm' to every publisher in the U.S. and got knocked back by all of them (or something like that.) This indefatigable guy then started doing the rounds again and second time around he "struck pay dirt." Certainly qualifies as not-taking-no-for-an-answer, doesn't it? And that's something that every writer, and this one especially, needs as a constant reminder.
When Walt Disney lost the rights to his first successful cartoon character, Mortimer, he got back up, dusted himself off, and created a new character (a little fella by the name of Mickey Mouse.)
If you haven't heard those stories before, then you have now (this blog is also educational.)
At the other end of the spectrum there's someone like Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for twenty-six years for opposing the apartheid regime in South Africa. During that time the story of his struggle and his incarceration became a beacon to the groundswell of anti-apartheid sentiment around the world.
Mandela was released to an international hero's welcome in 1990. A patient, intelligent, articulate, inspirational man, he harboured no bitterness, spoke for peace, and went on to lead his nation through great change.
In between those three extreme examples, there are millions of tales of people from all walks of life who've fallen over, got up, dusted themselves off, and carried on.
Years ago, in a small way, I experienced this when I submitted my short suspense fiction to magazines. Each story was sent out two, three, four...sometimes a dozen times...and on a semi-regular basis one of them would find a home. It rarely happened on a first submission.
On a few occasions a story sold to a magazine, which had previously rejected it under a different editor. (Idiot!) Being rejected didn't matter. Being knocked down didn't matter. Giving it the 'ol Don Quixote was what really mattered. You don't have to a Mandela or a Disney or a Grisham to be inspired by their true stories.
And think about it. You've experienced something like this, perhaps in a small way, perhaps in a very big way, at some time. We all have. And yet, despite that, it seems the dogs of doubt are always on our tails.
That's why I never mind hearing another persistence-pays-off story. I need the reminder.
If you have a story of your own or know of a good one, feel free to share. (But keep it brief, I'm the only one allowed to ramble on this blog.)
Remember, David beat Goliath, the tortoise beat the hare...
Oh, and welcome to 'Take It As Read,' a new blog on the block about writing, publishing and the whole damn thing.