The thing I’m most proud of stemmed from my biggest failure. The first book I wrote and finished (before Chasing the Sun) helped me sign with my agent, but didn’t sell. Those were some dark, depressing times for me. After five years of working on that book, I felt like I’d gone so far, but hadn’t really gone anywhere.
But there’s this story my brother-in-law once told me, and I remember absolutely none of the specifics. Just that there was a miner who went searching for gold (or was it oil?) for years and years and years, looking in countless places, digging deeper and deeper each time, only to find nothing. He finally gave up. He decided he’d failed. Later, it turned out that at the last place he’d tried, if only he’d just gone a little deeper, he would’ve struck gold.
So I thought about that. And then, around that same time in July of 2011, I saw this Tweet:
And then I had a chance to speak with the author Jamie Ford, who asked me how things were going. You’re so close, he said. You don’t even realize how close you are, but you are.
About a month later, I started writing again. I tell people that sometimes, and it sounds simple: my first book didn’t sell, so I wrote another one. But it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done for myself. More than the book itself, I’m proud of the fact that I even wrote it. I’m even more grateful for the people who helped me get to that point. Because that’s the thing about failure: even if we crawl out of it alone, we have to pull our strength from somewhere.
What gives you strength to keep going when you’re ready to quit?