In the chapter ‘How to Spur Men On To Success’ Dale Carnegie writes: “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.”
Few are the people who have done just that in our lives. Of all the teachers who have taught us during all those years we have been in school, we can talk of only a few who have been a real inspiration to us. Jay McInerney writes:
“I realized that I might not ever make it as a writer, that it might be because I wasn’t good enough, or that it might be because the odds were just too long. Until I met Raymond Carver. His approach was to try and encourage everyone’s strengths, and since there’s so little encouragement out there when you’re trying to become a writer, having someone like Ray- encouraging you and egging you on- can be psychologically invaluable.”
I wish I could say the same about my teacher. Everyone needs some kind of encouragement. We the beginning writers are thirsty for recognition. We are desperate for someone to read our writing, to acknowledge our ability to write. We try to do everything we can to get more readers, viewers and followers on the internet. We query agents and editors hoping that one day someone will like what we write and we become published. And in the words of Samuel Johnson,
“Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”
Perhaps the best example to learn from is a true story that Dale Carnegie told and my uncle Setrak reminded me of:
Years ago, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn’t pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally, he got a job pasting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat-infested warehouse and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys – guttersnipes from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so nobody would laugh at him. Story after story was refused. Finally, the great day came when one was accepted. True, he wasn’t paid a shilling for it, but one editor had given him recognition. He was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets with tears rolling down his cheeks. The praise, the recognition that he received by getting one story in print, changed his whole career, for if it hadn’t been for that encouragement, he might have spent his entire life working in rat-infested factories. You may have heard of that boy, too. His name was Charles Dickens.