“Success is a continuing process. Failure is a stoppage. The man who keeps moving and working does not fail.” Ray Bradbury
What if you keep working and moving and writing and nothing seems to work for you, nothing changes in your life? On the contrary, everything fails. Do you still continue? Rejections, disappointments, worries of all sorts, like health or financial worries, never seem to cease. You sit at your desk to write and you have so much to say yet you still can’t produce a single paragraph. What next? Do you still keep on doing the same thing in much the same way? Or do you stop, turn the corner and decide to change your path. But how many times does one have to change paths in one lifetime? What if you believe deep in your heart that there’s no other path for you other than the one you’ve already taken? Do you still go on?
I have come at crossroads more than once in my life. And every time that I have chosen a path it has turned out to be even more difficult to cross. Usually I am okay with whatever life throws at me. But on rare occasions these difficulties and worries get the better of me. I am sad at first and angry. Angry at myself for choosing this life. Then I am mad at everything and at the world. What’s worse is that on days like this I can’t even write. I can’t produce even a single word. But being a positive person by nature, I can’t allow myself to be depressed for long. Hence I open my notebook which I keep for occasions like these and where I’ve jotted down stories of other writers and start reading. Eventually the craze starts to subside and a numbness takes over and slowly but gradually everything goes back to its normal.
One such story which I am sure you are familiar with is Colette’s, one of the most famous writers in France. At the age of twenty, she married the music critic, Henri Gauthier-Villars, a popular writer himself who wrote under the pen name “Monsieur Willy.” One day, interested in stories of her school life, he encouraged her to write them down. Colette never liked writing, so rumor has it that Mr. Willy locked her in a room until she turned out something. For every page she wrote, he’d pass in a slice of buttered bread until she had produced a satisfactory amount of writing each day. He liked what he read and, making a few changes, sent them off to an editor- under his own name. Thus were born the Claudine novels, which made Willy wealthy and famous. After thirteen years of such apprenticeship, Colette divorced him. She continued writing books, under her own name now, but she had no immediate success and had to find other ways of making a living until much later when her books were taken seriously by the critics. Over the years she won many international literary prizes and when she died at the age of 81, she was the first woman in France to be honored with an official state funeral.
The other story is Alex Hailey’s who said in an interview in August 1980:
“Ornately framed on my wall are two cans of sardines and eighteen cents. In 1960, I was living in a one-room apartment in Greenwich village, New York. I was literally hanging on by my fingernails, trying to make it as a magazine writer. I was selling just enough to keep going from week to week, sometimes from day to day. In my little cupboard, I had those two cans of sardines that were all I had to eat in the world. And I had eighteen cents in my pocket. That’s not the same eighteen cents by the way. I spent the original eighteen cents on a cabbage for dinner that night. I remember thinking at the time, there’s nowhere to go but up. And I put the two cans of sardines in a sack and put it away. Whenever I would move because I didn’t have the rent money, I would always take the sack with me. Six or seven years later I sold my first motion picture rights. That’s when I had those two cans of sardines and that eighteen cents framed.”
“No matter where I go, it will always be displayed as a reminder of the most significant lesson in the world- that when you’re pursuing a creative goal, you must hang in there. You must have faith. You must believe.”