Never Give Up, Never Surrender!
When I think back on the road to getting The Lonely Hearts Club published, there are many moments that stick out: signing my contract with Scholastic, finishing the manuscript, holding the Advance Reader’s copy in my hand, finding out that Mandalay Pictures wanted to pre-empt the movie rights. However, there is one memory that really sticks out the most and it’s not nearly as celebratory.
It was a Sunday afternoon in April 2008. I was working on yet another draft of LHC. I had notes from my agent on things to fix and I was stuck. I had worked all week at my job and spent all weekend at my computer, writing. I was tired and frustrated. So I got up, went over to my couch and started to cry. I thought, “I can’t do it anymore. I’m done. I’ve done the best I could, but I’m never going to get this manuscript in good enough shape. I tried to write a book and I just couldn’t do it.”
At that moment I had two choices: give up or get up. I could’ve shut down my computer, sat on my couch and ordered some food. That would have been the easy thing to do and it was very, very tempting. The other, more difficult choice was to get up and write.
For the past four years I had worked on several drafts of the book and there I was, about to pack it all in. Just like that. I realized that I was being silly. I was so close to finishing the draft. Maybe I didn’t have another draft in me, but I at least had to try. So I wiped away the tears and gave myself a little pep talk. All I had left to edit was 50 pages. I could do 50 pages. I got up, sat down and attacked the keyboard. I was too afraid to take a break so I didn’t stop until I reached the last page.
I’m not going to lie and say that when I sent off the manuscript that I knew I had the version that would be sent to publishers. In fact, I wasn’t even excited when I finished it. Usually after I finished a draft I would put on “Revolution” by the Beatles and dance around my apartment. This time I hit send and collapsed on my couch. Three days later I receive an e-mail from my agent saying that the manuscript was ready to be submitted to publishers. I really was in the final stretch. I almost gave up on mile 26 of a marathon (which is 26.2 miles).
While giving up is usually the easiest route, I think about all the experiences I would have never experienced if I had not made the choice to get up. The Lonely Hearts Club would just be just a folder filled with numerous drafts on my computer. I wouldn’t be a published author. I wouldn’t get to talk to readers, mostly teenage girls, who have found some comfort from the book.
I’m sure a lot of people reading this have a dream, something they want to do. Dreams are sometimes hard to accomplish. Many of them aren’t even remotely easy. Most of things worthwhile in life require a lot of hard work. So all I can really say to those aspiring authors, musicians, actors, teachers, etc. is GET UP. If you’re feeling lost or tired, GET UP.
Because out of everything I’ve accomplished in my life, the thing I’m most proud of is that fact that I got up.