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Perseverance Is the Biggest Talent

Norma Hopcraft

August 08, 2018

"After losing my way in life, just a bit, I re-launched a writing career—a childhood dream—and began to send work to literary magazines. I was bursting with hope for affirmation of my great skill and broad experience. Editors would be glad I sent them work. I would be a literary star. I sent out stories and essays confidently at first. Months later I would get a reply in the mail—from The Paris Review, for example (I'm a sucker for the biggest names). I would stand motionless, desperate for acceptance, floating amongst the stars with hope. I'd slip my finger under a loose corner of the flap and tear. Take the slip of paper and hold it up to my near-sighted eyes. The pain of rejection dragged me from the stars into the red-hot magma at the core of the earth. I'd get a letter from a lit magazine and cringe at the pain I was about to feel. I would try to cut off hope—it seemed easier than to be disappointed again. Then I'd hope against hope, wishing for that surge of affirmation from being accepted. But I knew at this point that it wasn't likely. I'd whip through those three stages several times. Then I would say, 'Open it. It might just be what you want to hear.' I was right twice. But hundreds of times I got a rejection, and each one floored me for days, if not weeks. But I chose each time to keep working at my craft. I may be more talented at dogged perseverance than I am at creative writing. It doesn't matter. I have to write. If I don't, Franz Kafka's quote comes true: "A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." ... So I've bird-dogged my goal: to keep out of the asylum and instead to benefit the world as my Higher Power wants me to do."

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