Since childhood, Larry Dane Brimner wanted to be a writer. As a young man, Larry taught school while struggling to get his work published.
Now this was in the 1980s, well before email and electronic submissions. Larry would mail copies of his manuscripts to publishing houses and wait for replies, which came by way of U.S. mail.
Larry tells the poignant tale of the excitement, anticipation, and agony of awaiting a response to his very first book submission. It came, eventually, in the form of a rejection letter. Of course, this was disappointing, but he made up his mind to keep writing and keep mailing out his manuscripts.
For some reason, Larry kept that rejection letter. He placed it on the floor of a spare closet in his home. When he received another “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter from a publisher, he placed it on top of the first letter. He did the same with the next rejection letter. And the ones that came after that.
Time passed and Larry continued teaching by day and writing on nights and weekends. He kept submitting manuscripts. Months turned into years of this same routine.
One day there was a commotion in front of his house and Larry found that some young boys who were riding their motocross bicycles in the street had crashed into his parked car. In the classic manner of turning lemons into lemonade, Larry noticed the boys’ dedicated interest in their sport — and he decided to write a book about it.
BMX Freestyle (Watts) by Larry Dane Brimner was published in 1987. This, his first book, was a commercial and critical success that launched his writing career. Today, Larry is an accomplished writer with more than 150 published titles. Most are for young readers.
These days, his full-time occupation is writing and speaking about writing.
On the day that Larry received word that one of his books was finally accepted for publication, he grabbed a yardstick and went to his closet. He measured the stack of rejection letters piled neatly on the floor.
It was 26 inches high.
Chills went through me when I first heard Larry tell his story, and I am getting them again as I share it. What a tribute to the power of perseverance!
This is a lesson to be carried by anyone who aspires to success. Whether you work in the arts, in advertising, in retail, in product design, in branding, or in any other of an infinite number of endeavors, persistence is a key to your breakthrough moment.
And it’s not only a matter of learning from your off-target attempts.
Persistence is necessary to establish awareness and build recognition. This concept may manifest itself as consistency, repetition, saturation, high-traffic visibility, or viral exposition to name a few branding and marketing tactics.
Success comes with persistence.
You can say that again. And again.
Copyright © 2011 Rod Ebright