April 16, 2009

Never Give Up

Self esteem. It’s a struggling author’s enemy. With each rejection slip comes the thought: Maybe I’m just not good enough.

Here’s your writing prompt for today. Look at this picture. Put aside what you may already know about it, and write one paragraph to describe what you see.

Now, click on the link below. The next seven and a half minutes are worth your time. They will prove to you that you should never give up on yourself, as a writer or otherwise.

Dreams Do Come True

Susan Boyle’s dream was to be a professional singer. When asked, “Why hasn’t it worked out so far?” she answered matter-of-factly, “I haven’t been given the chance before, but here’s hoping that it’ll change.” Susan Boyle didn’t stuff her dream into the back of a dark closet. She'd held onto it for 35 years. She kept on singing, hoping, and believing that someday her dream would become a reality.

Writers shouldn't give up on their dreams either, especially when rejection slips are stacked on their kitchen tables. If Susan Boyle isn’t enough inspiration, then here’s a list of ten best-selling books that were repeatedly rejected by publishers.

Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis – 15 rejections
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach – 18
Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield – 140
And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss –27

Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl – 20
M*A*S*H* by Richard Hooker – 21
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 38
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – 26

Carrie by Stephen King – 30
The Call of the Wild by Jack London – 60

All of these authors swept away the criticism that threatened their self-esteem, and they kept hoping. With each written proposal and with every manuscript dropped into the mailbox, they whispered, “I haven’t been given the chance before, but here’s hoping that it’ll change.”

There’s a lesson for all of us in the story of Susan Boyle. You can’t judge a book by its cover. Beyond its title lies someone’s dream, someone’s hope that if they just keep trying, someday success will come. Susan Boyle took the risk. She bravely walked out in front of a room filled with people, most of them laughing and rejecting her on sight, because she believed that she had talent. It was only a matter of time before the world believed it, too. Like Susan Boyle, the lesson is plain: Keep hoping that you will be given the chance. Never, ever, give up on your dream.

Boyle is the youngest of nine children and lives in Blackburn with her ten-year-old cat, Pebbles. Boyle suffered oxygen deprivation during birth, resulting in learning disabilities. Her classmates teased her because of this and because of her appearance. She stopped her pursuit of singing to look after her sick mother who died in 2007, at the age of 91. Her performance on Britain’s Got Talent was the first time Boyle had sung after her mother's death. She is unmarried and presently unemployed. She aspires to become a musical theatre singer.