A friend of mine met with good fortunes in quick succession after he was signed as a writer with The Readers, a highly popular magazine in China. He was admitted, first of all, into the provincial Writers’ Association. And then, a cashier as he had been, he was offered a position to teach in an institute of literature. That year he was only 28 years old, but had already published literary works of about 600,000 Chinese characters.
Many students were filled with admiration for his achievement. Quite a few literature fans went to him for advice. “Sir, would you share with us your secret for writing so successfully?” He relied candidly, “Yes. Just one word – passion.” “Then, how much passion do we need if we want to write as well as you do?” they pressed him. “One foot deep,” answered my friend.
One-foot-deep passion? A perplexed look appeared on their faces. My friend took them home and fetched out a bundle of used writing paper from under his bed: all the sheets were filled with small and closely-written characters. Those were his rejected manuscripts, a good foot in thickness.
“If you want to achieve something in writing, you must maintain a passion that’s one foot deep. In other words, you should keep on writing until your rejected manuscripts accumulate to one foot thick. During this period, you must not become impatient or sink into despair. Only with expectation and passion can you have confidence and hope for the future,” he told his students.
Enlightened by his words, the students came to realize that success in writing is not something easy to come by. On the contrary, it requires painstaking efforts. They looked enthusiastic and eager to have a try right away.
But my friend continued, “There is one thing you must bear in mind: The passion can only be one foot deep! If after practicing countless times and your writing still remains at the level of a high school student, you might as well try something else, lest you get into a blind alley. Any further attempt will just mean a waste of your time and talent.”
Indeed, whatever we do, we should do it with deep, persevering passion. However, if our exertion has proved to be fruitless, we should quit as soon as possible and try something different while we are young. Success may be at the corner just when we switch over to a new direction.