My favorite definition of success is "the enthusiasm with which one moves from one failure to the next." This definition implies resilience and perseverence. I like that implication.
We've all been discouraged by our writing careers, or lack thereof, at one time or another. But when you think about the writing careers of many famous writers, those roads weren't always smooth, either. We see those careers at the end of the road, at the finish line. Many of us are still at the beginning, or maybe a little farther. But we just aren't there, yet.
We didn't see the hours of solitary writing at a sad little desk, or the marked-up galleys that bleed red, or the edits and fact-checking that made your favorite writer want to pull out his or her hair. We missed all that. We came in at the end, where everything came together and the writer received the payoff for months or years of hard work.
So the next time you are a little discouraged about the progress of your career, count those rejection letters with pride, and savor those criticisms as badges of honor that pave the road of success. Maybe next year at this time, you will be recognized as one of the up-and-coming writers you've read about so many times.
What if the following people had quit when they were behind?
Tina Brown was expelled from school, as were swimming champion Diana Nyad and Roger Daltry, composer, musician and lead singer of The Who.
Dr. Robert Jarvick, inventor of the artificial heart, was rejected by 15 medical schools.
Sally Jesse Raphael was fired 19 times before becoming a famous host of her own radio and television shows.
Walt Disney was fired by an editor for having "no good ideas."