JK Rowling on Failure

A friend sent me this link to the commencement speech J. K. Rowling gave to Harvard graduates in June 2008. Most of us know something about the fact that she struggled prior to her legendary success, but this inspirational speech not only made me admire her more, it also put perspective on my own efforts to find a publisher for my manuscript Waeke. Click the image to hear what she had to say, and read below for some more thoughts on how success is all mingled with rejection and failure which I found on the website of Emory University in Atlanta Georgia:

Click here to hear JK Rowling's Commencement Speech to Harvard Graduates in June 2008

Some other famous people whose overnight success took years and a refusal to accept rejection:

  • It took THOMAS EDISON 1001 tries (and the endurance of plenty of public ridicule) to get the light bulb right
  • WINSTON CHURCHILL failed sixth grade, and he was defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at the age of 62.
  • ALBERT EINSTEIN did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.
  • MICHAEL JORDAN was cut from his high school basketball team. Jordan once observed, “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”
  • WALT DISNEY was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.
  • After HARRISON FORD’S first performance as a hotel bellhop in the film Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, the studio vice-president called him in to his office. “Sit down kid,” the studio head said, “I want to tell you a story. The first time Tony Curtis was ever in a movie he delivered a bag of groceries. We took one look at him and knew he was a movie star.” Ford replied, “I thought you were spossed to think that he was a grocery delivery boy.” The vice president dismissed Ford with “You ain’t got it kid , you ain’t got it … now get out of here.”
  • BEETHOVEN handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him “hopeless as a composer.” And, of course, you know that he wrote five of his greatest symphonies while completely deaf.
  • VAN GOGH sold only one painting during his life. And this to the sister of one of his friends for 400 francs (approximately $50). This didn’t stop him from completing over 800 paintings.
  • 15 publishers rejected a manuscript by e. e. cummings. When he finally got it published by his mother, the dedication, printed in uppercase letters, read WITH NO THANKS TO . . . followed by the list of publishers who had rejected his prized offering.
  • 27 publishers rejected DR. SEUSS’S first book, To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
  • JACK LONDON received six hundred rejection slips before he sold his first story.

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