12 August 2011

going the extra mile - or two

If you want something really badly, then you'll do anything to get it. Or so goes the saying. For some people, it's about how badly they really want it. Because if you really want something, you will literally do anything to get it - including sacrificing time, money, relationships, etc.
I'd say I'm ambitious, but to a fault. I obsess over my latest "project", whether it's an artistic endeavor, an athletic one, or an academic one. I have this incredible amount of passion for something in the beginning, then it slowly dies, and I never end up finishing. That explains the hundreds of shreds of paper, notebooks that are half written in, and half finished stories, of which I wrote only a page or two. This is why I'm so glad I have kept up with this for so long, no matter what. Sometimes I blog when I am falling asleep. Sometimes in a car, in a hotel room, or even through wells of tears. But I do it. And I don't give up.
But my story isn't very inspiring when compared to the one I'll tell you now. You have probably heard of Kathryn Stockett by now, and in case you haven't, she's the author of the novel The Help, which is coming out as a movie soon. I want to see the movie, but I have wanted to read the book since I first read the back cover several months ago. It's been the number one book for Barnes and Noble and The New York Times, among others. So this is why I now must read it. You know, when I'm not annotating vast amounts of books for school.
But who would have thought that this bestseller, the one that NPR says is the best piece of literature since To Kill A Mockingbird (another great one), was rejected 60 times before it was accepted?
Kathryn Stockett wrote a small article about this as her fame was on the rise, and especially with this new movie coming out, everyone wants to know about the brainchild behind the masterpiece work. She wrote The Help, sent it off to a publisher, and got rejected. She was even a little excited to get her first official rejection letter, mostly because it meant she was making progress; one down, an infinite amount of publishers left to try. So she revised and sent it off to more publishers. 15 more rejection letters. She was still not deterred by this.
But once the numbers hit 30, she began to get a little less excited about getting rejection letters. And once it got to 40, she didn't know how may more she could handle. How could this amazing story she spent so long on be worth nothing in the eyes of publishers, who know the consumer reader's preferences and tendencies like the back of their hand?

5 more letters, none bearing good news. She became "neurotic", in her words, but continued to send it off to more publishers, all while revising and trying to make The Help even better.
Later, she reached 50 rejection letters, then 60. 60 times someone told her she wasn't good enough. 60 times she tried and was said "no" to. 60 times her patience, ambitions, and writing skills were tested. She was told that her writing was boring, not what people wanted to read, not what America wanted to hear about. No one would read it.
The magic number is 61. The 61st letter accepted The Help and sold it to a publishing company where production began, and she finally achieved her dream - three years later.
And she thought to herself: what if she stopped after 30 letters? or 40? or 50? or 60? She tried, she pushed through, and she finally got what she wanted because she wanted it so badly.
If you really want something, you want it enough to get back up again after everyone says you can't do it, and you keep pushing. You keep fighting and trying and you will see, like Kathryn Stockett, that if you want it badly, you just can't give up.

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