I recently had the pleasure of attending a book signing, here in Dallas, for one of the best-known authors of our time, Nicholas Sparks.
One of the reasons I traveled to see him was because I wanted to be in the presence of a true success story; someone who’s worked hard, developed his craft into literary artistry, and has gained international acclaim due to the marketability of his work. Mr. Sparks is a self-made man, and someone who those of us in the writing field continually strive to become. He’s an author who never gave up when he first started writing, despite some setbacks and being rejected numerous times. And as fate suddenly called, he took full advantage of the opportunities that arrived literally overnight.
Nicholas Sparks wrote two novels in his earlier years which were never published. During this time, he worked as a real estate appraiser, waiter, sold dental products and other pharmaceuticals, and delved into the manufacturing business. He eventually wrote another novel called, The Notebook, and began doing the usual querying of literary agents and publishers seeking representation. As time went by, he received a phone call from an agent (inexperienced at the time) who plucked his manuscript from a slush pile, liked what she read, and offered to take him on as a new client. Shortly afterward, and as much to her surprise as his, she sold The Notebook to the Time Warner Group securing Mr. Sparks a one million dollar advance. Upon publication, The Notebook arrived on the NY Times Bestsellers list during its first week of release, propelling Mr. Sparks into the public eye as one of the hottest authors on the shelves. Since then, Nicholas Sparks has written seventeen novels (over 80 million copies sold) with eight of them being adapted into film, including his latest, Safe Haven. He’s become very involved in screenwriting, philanthropy, and raising awareness among our youth of the importance of reading. As his success has grown, he’s kept, and stayed loyal to the same individuals who made him famous from the beginning, including his beloved literary agent, editors, and publicity personnel.
Nicholas Sparks is a testament of what can happen when you have a dream, some talent, and a determined drive to succeed. People like him make you believe that what you’re doing can develop into something bigger, and more successful than most could ever imagine. And just when you’re ready to give up, an unexpected event, experience, or person can enter your life turning it all around, placing you into the arms of greatness.
I stood in line for roughly an hour before Mr. Sparks arrived. Beforehand, the employees of the bookstore had stated pictures weren’t going to be allowed, and that his time was extremely limited. Much to the surprise of everyone there, he showed up early, smiling, and offering pictures for anyone who wished one; when he came my way he was very gracious, attentive, and extremely approachable. I have read some of his works during the past couple of years and to meet such a great talent was really surreal. But, he made you feel as though he was just another guy, one who merely had a dream and was willing to take the steps necessary to make it come to pass. Granted, for one to gain his level of success takes a rare, raw talent, having the right people come across your path, a positive support system, some divine help from God, and a little bit of luck. But, it can, and does happen if someone is willing to commit themselves to their goals.
We are increasingly living in a society where more and more are less willing to strive to succeed. Many have lost that certain drive, positive outlook, swagger, and work ethic it takes to turn dreams into reality. But, as many success stories throughout history have been told, including the one I’ve written about here, they all started with a vision, some talent, and a raw determination to make things happen.
As for now, here’s to all the Nicolas Sparks’ who are soon to be discovered.
Thanks for listening…