This question has preyed on the mind of almost every writer I know, and it’s something I discussed in my last blog post. The doubt of not being agented yet, a book not being good enough, no forthcoming deal when on some submission to publishers… the turmoil and angst can seem endless. Of late, I’ve seen many a writer ask the question “Should I give up writing?”
In my last post, I looked at the heart and soul of why I think that writing should be first and foremost your passion and the publishing should be a secondary goal. But today, I’d also like to see some of the examples of authors who have been in the shoes of those doubting writers and have pushed on and fought their way to success. So for a little inspiration, here are some success stories that can light the way on your dreariest of days:
SOME OF THE MOST REJECTED YET SUCCESSFUL WRITERS
Chicken Soup for the Soul: 144 rejections.
Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: 121 rejections.
Elmore Leonard, The Big Bounce: 84 rejections by publishers and producers.
Marlon James, John Crow’s Devil: 78 rejections from publishers.
Heidi Durrow, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: 48 rejections from publishers
Donal Ryan, Spinning Heart: 47 rejections from publishers.
Samuel Beckett, Murphy: 40 rejections from publishers.
Daniel Handler, The Basic Eight: 37 rejections from publishers.
James Patterson, The Thomas Berryman Number: 31 rejections from publishers.
Stephen King, Carrie: 30 rejections from publishers.
John Grisham, A Time to Kill: 28 rejections.
Dr. Seuss, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street: 27 rejections from publishers.
Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time: 26 rejections from publishers.
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife: 25 rejections from agents.
Frank Herbert, Dune: 23 rejections from publishers.
Joseph Heller, Catch-22: 22 rejections.
AUTHORS WHO GOT A LATE START IN LIFE
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye: 40 years old.
Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer: 41 years old.
Bram Stoker, The Snake’s Pass: 43 years old.
Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep: 44 years old.
Helen DeWitt, 2000’s The Last Samurai: 44 years old.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: 45 years old.
Richard Adams, Watership Down: 52 years old.
Anna Sewell, Black Beauty: 57 years-old.
Mary Wesley, Speaking Terms and The Sixth Seal: 57 years old.
Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes: 66 years old.
Harriette Doerr, Stones of Ibarra, 74 years old.
Millard Kaufman, Bowl of Cherries, 90 years old.
As you can see, writers find their success at all ages and after all amounts of rejections. As long as you are learning, polishing your craft, building relationships, and enjoying your writing, I truly believe you can get there.