Sometimes I am asked, as a writer, what keeps you going through the difficult times? What is my motivation and inspiration when the going gets tough?
Recently I attended a talk at the National Geographic Society in London about trans-Antarctic expeditions – some expedition leaders spoke at an awards ceremony I was attending. And Wow. It was there I heard the story of the ship Endurance… And what lessons it has to teach us – those of us struggling with rejection letters (see my old ones below) or the pressure of a looming deadline, listen up….
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, in 1914 Captain Ernest Shackleton sailed his ship, Endurance, to the Antarctic. Once there, the ship got stuck in ice and he and his men were stranded. Shackleton decided to take five of the starving men with him in a lifeboat, without choice leaving many crew behind, and navigated 750 miles of treacherous ocean in this small vessel, living off fish and seabirds, to find land and help. Finally – and incredibly – he achieved this and months later, as part of a rescue mission, he got back to his men who had survived by eating their sleigh dogs.
I now have a photo of this stranded ship on the wall of my kitchen. It inspires me in my darkest moments, be them personal or professional. Imagine the determination and strength of character necessary to defeat those dangerous oceans. Imagine the focus, the sense of loyalty, the determination, the iron will – he must have refused to allow pessimistic voices in. Clearly, he was convinced that despite all the odds, he could achieve his goal and save his men.
This story helps me put my concerns and objectives into perspective. However bad my writer’s block might seem – or, as an unpublished author, however much I might have despaired of signing a deal – one must never lose faith, because faith in your own ability can help you accomplish amazing things. Endure the worst and who knows what you will achieve…