I’m optimistic by nature. However, when I do get down, I can throw a world-class pity party. Yesterday, was one of those days for me. I called one of my best friends and waxed, or perhaps whined, poetically on all the reasons I felt like giving up on my dream. She listened patiently, told me I was wonderful, and then accompanied me to wine club where I spent several hours eating delicious, calorie packed finger foods and drinking red wine. I felt like I should have been over my pity party, but I wasn’t. The pity lingered like bad perfume. On the way home, I called my mother who told me to check my e-mail when I got home.
Leave it to my mother to get right to the heart of the matter. She sent me excerpts from a book about famous failures and highlighted this quote:
“Failure might just be the greatest thing that can possibly happen to you. It tests your determination, forces you to reassess your goals, and makes you stronger, more passionate, and more committed.” Joey Green
I don’t know why but reading how other people, people who went on to make it big, failed, made me feel better. I don’t know if that makes me twisted or perhaps it goes back to the saying that misery loves company. Whichever it is, or even if it’s neither, I wanted to share some of what I read-just in case there is someone out there today trying to succeed but wondering if they really have what it takes.
A Few Famous Failures
Richard Hooker’s novel MASH was rejected by twenty-one publishing houses. William Morrow published MASH in 1968. The book was made into a movie by Robert Altman and into a bestseller that spawned the long-running television comedy series.
Frank Herbert’s first novel, Dune, was rejected by thirteen publishing houses. Dune was finally published by Chilton in 1965 and went on to sell more than ten million copies and win the Hugo and Nebula awards. This book is considered a science fiction classic.
James Joyce had his first book, a collection of short stores called Dubliners, rejected by twenty-two publishing houses. It was finally published in 1914 and Joyce was hailed as a genius for his use of stream of consciousness. He also wrote A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegan’s Wake – all critically acclaimed novels.
Robert Sterling’s first forty freelance scripts for radio dramas were all rejected. Mr. Sterling became one of televisions most successful writers. He created and hosted the shows The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery and wrote the screenplays for Requiem for A Heavyweight and Planet of the Apes.
Patrick Dennis’s novel Auntie Mame was rejected by seventeen publishing houses. Vaguard published the book in 1955. It was a runaway bestseller, selling more than two million copies and was adapted into a Broadway show.
Sinclair Lewis said of his first five novels: “I lacked sense enough to see that, after five failures, I was foolish to continue writing.” He went on to write the American classics Main Street, Elmer Gantry, The Man Who Knew Coolidge, and Dodsworth. Lewis became the first American novelist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
I know I feel better - hope you do too!
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche
I'd love to hear any famous stories you might know.