On Friday nights, I finish in my office, shut the door, and find a good movie to watch. It helps me deprogram from the week and escape into either a good biography, a drama, or sometimes — even one of those predictable Hallmark movies.
One Friday, I happened upon a movie I had never seen before with an intriguing main character. Miss Potter, based on the author of the best-selling children’s books. Beatrix Potter was played by Renee Zellweger, a talented actress who can perfect a British accent and portray gutsy women.
I knew some of the backstory about Beatrix Potter, having grown up when going to the library and checking out books was our main past time. The Tales of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and other delightful animals were in our home library. Part of our nightly routine of a story before bedtime.
What I did not realize and had not studied was how difficult it was for Beatrix to be accepted by the publishers of her time. In the early 1900’s, all writing and illustrations were hand-drawn, painstakingly painted with watercolors and calligraphy type.
Many of the more popular books, especially published for women, were silly romances. Those were the stories that made money for publishers. Not much difference in some of today’s more popular genres.
But Beatrix’s imagination created characters out of the creatures of the earth. Her creative spirit extended to give these animals cute little human outfits and tales that delighted children. However, the process of getting her books accepted was just as difficult as it sometimes is today. Especially for creatives who write out of the norm. Create outside the box.
Undeterred, Beatrix traveled from publisher to publisher — always accompanied by her lady’s maid. She fought for her stories and for the right to be considered a serious author. She demanded that her books remain small with a legible typeface. None of the Gothic romance fonts for Beatrix Potter and her enterprising Peter Rabbit.
Eventually, she found a publisher who believed in her and worked with her to produce and market her work. In those early days of the 1900’s, printing presses were operated by hand, each letter set with great care and inked appropriately. A slow process. A careful merging of author, creative project, and the iron guts of a printing press.
And the rest of the story is literary history. Beatrix Potter’s books have sold in the millions. Her earnings allowed her to become an independently wealthy woman who bought several farms that she returned as conservation lands to the British people.
But what was the quality needed to allow Miss Potter to become such a celebrated author? What kept her in the place of hope, even after multiple rejections?
It was the quality every creative must nurture. Perseverance. The tenacity and determination to continue to write, to produce sentences and paragraphs, to make them appear on the page, then sell the idea to a publisher. Or become our own publisher.
Perseverance is a quality that cannot be taught. It must be experienced and ground out through multiple failures, doused with depressing waters that try to extinguish its passionate fire. It requires a pure heart that believes in its mission and moves forward, no matter how discouraging the road.
Every writer experiences rejection of their work. The difference between a writer and a published author is perseverance.
And the difference between giving up versus moving forward is the belief in hope.
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Discover the hope that Abigail found within herself in her story: No Visible Scars.