9/25/17, You CAN!!!!
Well, it’s officially fall now. Busy times. I hope all is well with you!!
I was doing some religious reading tonight, about “David and Goliath” experiences, when we are faced with some enormous challenges, and somehow overcome them, with no encouragement from anyone around us. It made me think back to my own experiences in that vein.
When I was very young, a child of 10 or 12, I was very bad at math, and had a tutor, to try and bring my math grades up. She was kind of a severe woman, frustrated with my lack of aptitude, and I hated math—and she told me that I was a “butterfly”, would flit from one thing to the next in my life, and would never amount to anything. French schools in those days, and teachers, were not long on encouragement. But her prediction stuck with me that I would never amount to anything. I believed her. (And I did not improve in math with her help!!)
I wrote my first book at 19, kind of as an experiment to see if I could, and I found I loved doing it. I had always written for pleasure, and never thought of it as a career (I wrote mostly poetry in my teens, but was hoping for a career in design). And by some miracle after writing my first book, I met Alex Haley, the author of Roots, who was an incredibly kind man, and he encouraged me. He was very supportive of young authors, and referred me to his agent. (No one in my close circle or family was interested in my writing a book, and thought it was some kind of aberration and a ridiculous idea. No one thought I could write.). I submitted my book to Alex Haley’s agent, who took forever to read it, and finally told me that writing just wasn’t going to be a career for me. He told me to forget about writing, and discouraged, I had lunch with a friend who was a writer, and told him what a flop I was with my writing. He suggested I show the manuscript to his agent before I gave up entirely, a woman, which I assumed would be hopeless, but I gave it a try, and sent it to her. It was a distinguished agency that represented people like F.Scott Fitzgerald and Agatha Christie. Most of their clients were estates of famous writers, but I gave it a try. She liked the book and agreed to represent me, sold it very quickly, as a paperback original, and I was thrilled. (The book is still in print). The next 5 books I wrote did not sell to any publisher, and I was beginning to think that the first agent was right, that I had no talent and should forget writing. I almost did. And then lo and behold the 7th book I wrote sold, and my writing career slowly, slowly took off—not with any dazzling success, but the books sold steadily, still in paperback. I shared with that agent the dream that one day I would write a hardcover (I was still very young then, since I had started so early. And I was working in advertising, as a copywriter, and writing at night). The agent looked at me with outrage when I said I’d like to publish in hardcover one day, and said “Who do you think you are?” (I can still hear her say it). She saw me as a paperback writer forever, stuck where I was. Her words really stung, and upset me. I was working very hard at what I wrote. I never saw myself as becoming famous one day, I just wanted to do it well, and improve with each book. One of my strengths is persistence and perseverance, once I do something, I stick with it, and want to do it well. Her very sharp comment, which was a put down, stung, and led me to look for another agent. When I found that agent, Mort Janklow, who is still my agent, he took me to heights I had never even dreamed of, and treated my work with enormous respect. He saw the potential there, and helped me achieve it. It’s taken many years of hard work, and has given me a remarkable career I love. (As an aside, my father read one of my books and thought it was junk, and told me not to bother pursuing a career I had no talent for, and my mother never read a single one of my books in her entire life.).
My point is that if I had listened to that tutor when I was 12, maybe I would have amounted to nothing, just as she predicted. If I had listened to the first agent, I would have quit before I started, before I was even published. If I’d listened to the second agent, and shrunk back into the shadows, I would never have been published in hardcover or have the career I do now. We all have naysayers in our lives, but somehow through it all I persisted, I refused to believe them, and like David fighting Goliath, I was the little person, the unknown writer, the shy young girl, but I persisted and persisted and refused to believe them, and stuck with it, and it has given me a wonderful life, doing what I love. You just can’t listen to the people who want to squash you, and you have to keep on going, no matter what they say.
My last husband, Tom, had a similar experience. He was a lot older than I am, born into a very poor family, in the Depression (they lived on mayonnaise sandwiches in the lean years and couldn’t afford to buy him shoes, he had to wear the ones he outgrew), and he did extremely well in school, with a strong aptitude for science and physics. One of his high school teachers recognized what he believed was genius and asked Tom’s parents to let him apply to college. They were outraged, and wanted him to go to work as soon as he graduated, they said he wasn’t smart enough to go to college. Television was new then, and they wanted him to become a TV repairman, which they thought would be a great job for him with a future. The teacher, in secret from everyone, applied Tom for Harvard and MIT, and Tom was accepted at both with a full scholarship, and went to MIT, and Harvard for graduate school. And he really was a genius. I don’t think Tom’s parents were too pleased at his going to college, instead of getting a job repairing TVs, and bringing in an income right after high school. At 27, five years after he graduated, he had been working on a ‘project’ in his garage, on a tiny budget, and invented a laser which is still in use today. He sold it by mail order out of his garage at first, and made his first fortune from it. In the years afterwards, he started Genentech, helped build Tandem and Compaq, was one of the founding members of Silicon Valley, became a famous venture capitalist, financed AOL, Amazon and countless companies, was one of the first supporters of Google, worked at Hewlett Packard, and was an inventor, scientist, a famous sailor, a sculptor and was an extraordinary man. (And he returned to give his high school teacher part of his early earnings from his laser, in thanks for what he had done for him, applying him to MIT).He had a dazzling career, and if he had listened to his parents, he would have been a TV repairman. If the high school teacher hadn’t had the courage and determination he did, Tom would never have gone to college. Tom led a fascinating life, and had an extraordinary career. Tom Perkins. He died last year after a remarkable life.
If we had listened to the people who didn’t believe in us, I’d never have written a 2nd book, and Tom would probably have been the smartest TV repairman in his town, and his genius would have been wasted. And I’d never have had the career that I have enjoyed for all of my adult life. We all have those negative people in our lives, who tell us we can’t do it. They’re so easy to find. It’s much harder to find people to encourage us. And sometimes, often, we have no one to encourage us at all. And we all feel so small faced with the obstacles. The obstacles seem so much bigger than any chance of success.
Whatever it is you’re doing, or want to do, or dream of doing, don’t let those negative people hold you back. Don’t let them stop you. Don’t let them rob you of the chance to do something you love. David took Goliath out with a simple slingshot. Believe that whatever it is you want to do, you can!!! Don’t let anyone stop you!! It’s something to think about.
Have a great week!!
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Wow! How scary to think of a world without a Danielle Steele or a Tom Perkins!
Funny thing, I often think of the importance of mentors and supporters… I think that social media is fooling us on that department, at the end of the day we really have no support or guidance… We are really missing on the opportunity to guide and to be guided, to support and being supported… Those who are closer to us, and that often claim to know us and our skills better than we do, seem to not have notion of their power and how easy it is to crush someone’s dreams and hopes. On the other hand, people aren’t really encouraged to challenge themselves and fight for their dreams! yes, there is an encouragement to people to fight for their rights (mostly for money) but not for the right to dream and follow a dream.
Sometimes I do the same exercise you did, Danielle, and I keep wondering how many of those ideas I left behind, because people hearing them stared at me as if I as a lunatic, wouldn’t in fact had worked. Encouragement is needed and if I can leave one advice for the fellow readers of this blog is to always make sure you are giving up on something because you feel it is not worth it and not just because someone told you to do so. Don’t live in regret, life is too short for that and I believe all of us have the ability to be great. On the other hand, if someone shares a dream with you, think of the best way you can help the person and if there is nothing you can do, at least wish that person “good luck”.
And Danielle, please never put your “slingshot” away, we need you to keep fighting the Goliaths of this world…
Thank you for a beautiful post!
Sorry this is not a comment it is a request. I am a realtor who has a cancer survivor client who has become a personal friend. I work for there whole family on many projects.
Anyway……. she was in Malibu yesterday at Point Dume and had finished her quiet time reading one of your books called The Right Time. She said how much she can relate to it and had a hard time putting it down.
So I am wondering if there is any way I can get a signed copy for her as a gift?
Let me know either way.
I am so glad you did not stop…I love your writing and look fo each new book. Read them all and love them. Thank you.
Thank you for the story you have help my daughter i good not fo it better.
Ty for ur post. Very encouraging. I do enjoy reading ur books. I’m reading the Mistress as of late. My fave book of yours so far is Summers End. That one made me cry.
I think you are a great writer.and i marvel at how u can take us around the world in each book.And the storylines are amazing as well.
I think you are very gifted talented and very smart,& youre writing reflects that.And I also think that you put in the research.
You didnt get to where you are w/out putting in the work or the time.
I am so very glad that you did not listen to the naysayers.& its like you said,we all have one.
You should also know,:)) that i just purchased you’re newest book Right Time. I had read somewhere maybe on FB, not sure but was able to read a snippet of the book,& wanted the book right then & there. I called the library to place on hold & they had like 8 copies of the book & every last one was loaned out. They put my name on the hold list & told me it would be awhile b4 i could get the book bc the hold list was very long. I went to B&N the next day & bought the book:)) once i finish reading the book i always donate it to the library.
Anyway,i know I’m only one country heard from,but i enjoy ur books,& am glad u pursued your passion.keep it up:))
Thank You for sharing you’re heart w/us today.
May God Bless you & youre family,& you have a nice week as well.
I am so glad that you stuck with what your heart called you to do. I have 2 grown children, and I remember that any time they wanted to try them, the words “you can’t” never crossed my lips. I have always told them “You Can”, because, like you, I grew up in a world of being disparaged by those around me. Once I left home at the age of 16, I fell into the trap of letting a man continue with the mis-treatment. By the time I was 30, I realized, I am more than what others think. I divorced myself from all those in my life that kept telling me I couldn’t, and then I did. At 30, I became a single Mom, but took my dreams and a 5 year plan, and started going to college. By the age of 32, I started a career in Structural Design. By age 34, I had designed my own home and had that home built. I was now creating the life for myself and my children, that everyone who had been in my life previously, told me I couldn’t do. Now, 20 years later, my children are college educated and successful, and I am an Engineer, designing Turbine Engines for power plants. So now, everyone in my life, who was trying to snuff out the light within me, I now work at keeping the lights in their life, burning brightly. The first book I read of yours, was a paperback (its all I could afford at the time) called, Once In a Lifetime. I loved your description of New Hampshire so much, that this is where I chose to build my house, and where I still live to this day. Thank you for that inspiration, and your stories, of strong women, that I have read along the way, that have helped me, to say to myself, Yes, I can do anything.
What a great blog. I want to show my grandson as he could use the encouragement. There are people in his life that constantly feel that he is not smart enough, etc. Sad – I am his biggest fan and will show him this. Thank you for sharing.
I don’t know what I’d read if it wasn’t for you..this is awesome advise.im doing medical billing and coding online as a second career.my sister told me it was hard..i didn’t listen.im half way done..kathy
Amazing blog.I really need this blog at this point.Thank you sooo much for such a inspirational blog.Love u.
This is such an uplifting post. I really needed this. Thank you Danielle Steel. I started reading your books as a child courtesy of my elder sister who was 9 years older. I was that child who read anything and everything and just loved how you wrote. I began writing myself really young at around 7. Of course there have been many who scoff and say funny things about my writing but my mother, who is ironically not a very supportive person, has been very encouraging of my writing. She always says nowadays that one day I will live off my writing. I hold on to that dream.
ps: I’m a Kenyan
I love your books, I think I have read all of them. I am very happy you didn’t stop writing. My nephew is always trying to write a book, he is 23 yrs old. I tell him never give up, and i told him the story of Debbie Macomber. They told her she would never become a writer but she kept trying. Thank a God you two never gave up.
If you believe in yourself anything is possible. I am a survivor of an abusive marriage which I literally walked away from with my 3 small children 27 years ago at which time I had an moderate traumatic brain injury, which I had to learn to walk, talk and feed myself let alone learn to care and cook for my children. I eas determined and 26 years a TBI survivor. On social security disability, I found the need to go back to nursing. I was on my lunch break and driving to local store to pick up a mother’s day card. At a stoplight a woman on her cell phone did not see me stopped or the red light. Slam! A disc in my neck fractured and was very near my spinal cord. Had surgery and climbing the mountain once again 13 years later but in Hope. I am a survivor. This November will be 14 years since I lost my 20 year old daughter to an asthma attack. This is one time I can only go day by day and no A to B goal. This I am a mom with a hoke in my heart and hope feeling her presence around ne every day.Thank you Dannille for not giving up on your dream. I find your books are a place to go to and find messages of love, determination and survival.
Wow, what a great blog! I didn’t know all those things about you Danielle. I have read every one of your books and am starting “The Right Time” now. I have loved each and every one of them. They take me into another world away from this one. I’m so glad you kept at it and didn’t listen to those people who said you wouldn’t amount to anything. Your story is greatly encouraging to many. Keep on writing! My dream would be to some day meet you, my favorite author!
Thank you for your story.
I am glad to read more about. I share some of the same experiences
Thank you for your blog. I have something I want to, I’m not going to negative slow or stop me. I am moving forward.
I felt God say move forward and though you he confirmed it.
Dear Ms. Steel,
I had no idea the struggles you dealt with in your childhood from your tutor and parents over something that was positive no less! When my daughter was twelve I was all ears when she asked me if I would like to hear a poem she wrote! And to this day she continues to share her poetry with me. I am glad God gave you strength and blessed you with having persistence and perseverance as part of your butterfly make-up! 😉 Ironically, I have cocooned myself in a sleeping bag many-a-times during a storm, in front of the fireplace when the heavy snow caused yet another power outage and honestly I didn’t mind-I wasn’t alone-I had another Danielle Steel book to devour! Thank you for your inspiring story. I, too, will not give up as a newbie novelist-still looking for an agent to represent me. I would love to send you my book!
Lately I have been thinking of my High school physics teacher whom announced to the entire class that I was too lazy and would never amount to anything. This hurt me terribly and has stuck in the back of my mind since. I am now retired from what many would consider a “successful” life because I chose to work in the arts. I should never have been in a physics class!! My point is, that these comments that are carelessly thrown around sure do sting and are very difficult to ignore.
I applaud your perservearance and your belief in yourself!!
Thank you so much for this post! It should be required reading for every parent, teacher, and guidance counselor.
How often our idle comments have long-ranging effects(either positive or negative)that we never realize. My aunt was an accomplished pianist. One day she had her handwriting analyzed, and the so-called analyst told her she was not creative. She went home, closed the piano, and never played another note. On the other hand, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher told her she could be an inventor one day, and my daughter is now at college studying physics.
Your books and blog have been an inspiration to me for years, and I thank you so much for them, especially this one.
Thank you so much for your books. Since I was in my twenties I have read your books. Your books now fill a void in me. They are a comforter in depressing times. And I know that even with my challenges I am not alone.
Blessings to you Danielle Steel
You have no idea how loudly this resonated within me
Just the validation I’ve been needing.