“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.”
Benjamin Disraeli …
With a new week ahead, some of us may be facing some challenging moments in our writing. We may be wrestling with a thorny plot point or hitting a rough patch in a revision. The time may come when we think about how difficult whatever we’re tackling is and we may be tempted to throw in the towel. When that moment comes, let’s remember the name of a fellow author: Jean-Dominique Bauby.
Just recently, my friend and mentor Coach Mike Tully wrote a wonderful post called “Motivation by the Numbers: 200,000” on his inspiring website TotalGameplan.com. In it, he reminded me of the amazing story of how Jean-Dominique Bauby’s one and only book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, came to be. It was written blink by blink.
Before December 1995, Jean-Dominique was the successful man-about-town and editor of the French Elle magazine. But then he suffered a sudden massive stroke that left him paralyzed. A victim of “locked in syndrome,” he was unable to speak or move; the only part of his body he could control was his left eyelid.
Patiently, Bauby worked out a simple alphabetical system for communicating and “wrote” his amazing memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking his left eyelid 200,000 times. Can you imagine writing an entire book, letter by letter, by blinking? And doing it 200,000 times?
I have a copy of the book beside me as I write this. It’s a slim volume of just 130 or so pages describing Bauby’s life before and after his stroke. It’s beautifully written, heartbreaking and humorous by turn.
200,000 blinks: Think of the patience and pain, the frustration and fierce determination it took to write this book. Whatever we’re facing, chances are good that for most of us it will be only a fraction as challenging as what Jean-Dominique Bauby faced. So when we hit our next rough patch — and we will — let’s remember the number 200,000 — and write on.