It's not as engaging as his book Ego is the Enemy, which literally made me cry, but still thought-provoking. It speaks of the obstacles, the roadblocks, the problems we all face when we have a goal we're striving toward. The tagline: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.
Some people have overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve extraordinary feats, such as General Grant in the Civil War and of course Thomas Edison testing six thousand filaments to invent the light bulb.
We're not shooting for such grand heights as reuniting the United States of America (even if it needs it right now) but we all have obstacles and goals too. My goal is to make a living as an author. The self-published route to that hasn't been panning out, so I've returned to the traditional publishing option. But instead of querying directly to publishers, as I'd done with absolutely no plan or organization whatsoever in my younger years, I'm reaching out to agents.
My husband, who continues to be a pain in the ass by insisting I reach for my dream, sent me this useful blog post by Jane Friedman: How to Publish Your Book.
This led me to purchasing a year subscription to Writer's Market, a database of literary agencies and agents. I track the agencies alphabetically in a laughably primitive Xcel spreadsheet, with the specific agent and date queried. (Tracking your progress in a definable way is the only way you can measure it. I learned that from working out at the gym.)
So I've been throwing myself at the wall. Lather rinse repeat. This is the nose-to-the-grindstone part; harder for me than writing the goddamn book in the first place. This is where persistence and dedication come in.
The Obstacle is the Way is rife with Stoic wisdom on the power of will, perspective and choice. It can be applied to whatever your obstacle and goal. These nuggets were particularly useful to me in my pursuit:
Alter your perspective.
Most people think of a rejection as a negative. But that's you putting yourself into it. A rejection is not the end. A hundred rejections is not the end. You just haven't found the right filament to make the bulb light up.
This is not to say you shouldn't revise your query letter or tighten up your manuscript. If something's not working, you need tenacity and good old fashioned hard work in addition to dogged persistence. Look for flaws; maybe there's a reason 156 agents turned you down. Tighten it up and keep at it. But always keep moving. Action is the key.
Set definable goals: I have 5 queries out at all times. When one comes in with a definitive NO or the estimated time window expires I send out a new one.
This strategy may not get me published, but I know what definitely won't: not trying. So if you need another reminder, in addition to the countless stories of the successful authors who were rejected hundreds of times before making it big, here it is.
Just keep swimming. Keep on keepin' on.
"When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance revert at once to yourself and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of harmony if you keep going back to it." -Marcus Aurelius, last of the so-called Five Good Emperors of Rome
It can be discouraging, but persistence is the key.
"What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better." -Wendell Phillips, American abolitionist, lawyer and oratorHoliday advises to "Build your inner citadel," meaning basically Get Your Mind Right. Fortify yourself for the rejections and setbacks because they will come. Anticipate them, expect the worst and then love everything that happens--amor fati; you may be stalled but at least you are on the right path and whatever comes is just a bump on the road to success. So keep on truckin'.