The Little Things That Sustain Writers


The odds of finding fame and fortune as a writer are remote, to say the least. The odds of finding satisfaction in the regular communing with a blank page however, are much better.

That’s why a lot of us do it. That’s why I do it.

Motivation helps to ease the lonesome task of writing and rewriting. Encouragement, wherever it could be found, will serve as fuel. Just like the drinks of water offered a marathoner along the route, an occasional news story can be a reminder that good things would meet us at some point in the future.

The story of The Help, the debut novel by Kathryn Stockett, is such a reminder: happy endings are just not for Hollywood movies. A rejection letter may not be the last word in the fate of a manuscript.

Industry standard Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called “The Help” a “button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel.” Positive vibes are viral on the Web.”It’s exciting to see someone get this kind of attention for a first novel,” Stockett’s agent, Susan Ramer, says. “This is very rare.”

Not bad for a manuscript that was shunned as Stockett shopped it to agents. She stopped counting at 45 rejection letters, but kept at it until Ramer snapped it up after reading a few pages. What others didn’t see — or care to read — was immediately evident to Ramer.

“Reading it, you say, ‘I’ve got to have this,'” Ramer says.She was able to sell the book in a matter of days. Publisher Amy Einhorn chose it to launch her own imprint at G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Determination, in the right measure, can work wonders.

One thought on “The Little Things That Sustain Writers

  1. drtombibey December 29, 2009 / 6:21 am

    It’s like the fellow who asked his wife to marry him eight times. She finally said yes. They really did live happily ever after, and that ain’t fiction.

    Dr. B

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