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.