“If they did it, so can you.”

On a yellow post it on my desk I have the following quote: 

“If they did it, so can you.” (WD 1996)

The caption is from a Writer’s Digest magazine from 1996. I was living and working as a teacher in Dubai when I enrolled in a creative writing course with the Writer’s Digest Writing Program. All correspondence was carried out by mail back then, I didn’t even have an email address. 

I remember how excited I used to be whenever I received my Writer’s Digest magazine in the mail. The articles in them were priceless to me. I remember each time I finished reading an article I would be so inspired that I would go straight to my notebook and start writing. I would carry them with me to school and whenever I had a minute to spare I would leaf through them, my heart beating fast in my chest. To me those magazines represented my dream.

I would underline, highlight, even copy the parts that I liked in special notebooks that I to this day keep on a shelf in the library near my desk. And on days like today when I find it hard to create (after reading news on the internet) and I feel I need some inspiration, I simply open a notebook and start reading.

Here are some more quotes from the same article. 

“All my life I had three goals that I wanted to achieve before I turned 40. I wanted to learn to swim, learn to cook and publish a novel. I failed on all three counts.” Irving Benig 

“I first had the idea back in 1982. I had almost every scene and character and theme of the book [in mind] before I wrote it. My real crisis of confidence was the initial question: Could I do it? Before you worry about getting an agent, before you worry about whether a book is good or not, the real test is, can you do it? Can you finish it? I thought I could, but I wasn’t sure. But once I started writing it, I got more and more confident. When I finished the initial draft, I still wasn’t confident that it would sell or that it would make money. But I was confident I had done what I wanted to do- that I’d written a good novel.” Irving Benig

At the age of 52, in the fall of 1994, Benig’s first manuscript “The Messiah Stones” was auctioned by his agent to Villard for $500,000. 

And he writes: 

“We’ve (his agent and him) talked about the possibility that [the book] might be big. But I’ve been in the business world and learned it’s not over until it’s over, anything can happen. [Villard’s bid] was like going on a date and getting your first kiss: You know there’s a chance, but you’re still pleasantly surprised.” 


I wish you all a pleasant surprise, and all the best in doing what you want to do!


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