Jack London is one of my favourite writers. He grabbed life by the scruff of the neck. By the time of his untimely death at the age of just 40, he’d written more than 20 novels and hundreds of short stories, becoming one of the most lauded and widely read authors in America.
I’m constantly inspired by him. I love his straightforward style, his evocative prose – and most importantly his unshakeable work ethic:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
London received an incredible 664 rejection letters before he had any success. It took 5 years of work – while he scraped by travelling the country, taking whatever odd jobs might sustain him – with not a whiff of success.
Nobody gave a shit. Until suddenly, they did.
In the early 1900s, it was incredibly difficult to build an audience. There were immense barriers to the ordinary person being able to share their work: it was the golden age of the gatekeeper. There was just no easy access to the means of mass communication.
But London persisted in the face of these obstacles. He found salvation in the work. He kept plugging away at his craft.
We have absolutely nothing to moan about in comparison. In Show Your Work, Austin Kleon writes about what a fantastic tool the internet is for connecting to an audience that cares about the stuff we’re working on.
It’s easier than ever to get your work out into the world – and get noticed.
I’ve learned a lot from Jack London. One lesson stands out: to never, never, never give up.
That idea has been retold and repackaged thousands of ways. But as long as people strive to make an impact, create art or build anything new, it will never lose it’s potency.