“Rejection is not a reason to give up. Sometimes you'll do something that you really like and no one else does. You'll feel terrible, but you've just got to press on and keep trying. If you like doing it and keep working at it, then someday you will succeed.” – Norman Bridwell
Bridwell, born in Indiana in 1928, is a great example. The artist-author of the phenomenally successful Clifford the Big Red Dog series was told he had no artistic talent and his stories were too schmaltzy. His first book, simply named Clifford the Big Red Dog, was rejected by the first 9 publishers he submitted it to. But, instead of throwing in the towel, he tried a 10th and the rest is history.
“Clifford,” by the way, was supposed to be called “Tiny,” but Bridwell’s wife Norma said that name was “stupid.” She liked the name Clifford, and as any writer knows, listen to your spouse or partner. As for Clifford’s friend Emily Elizabeth, that was a no-brainer. It was the name of their daughter, to whom Norman had been conveying his Clifford story in the first place.
His “poorly drawn; schmaltzy storied” book (just some of his rejecters’ words) became the anchor of a writing empire with 40-some titles printed in 65 countries and selling more than 130 million copies, plus an animated television series still loved by children everywhere.
Clifford actually embodies his creator, a gentle man with a sense of humor who wanted to share values he hoped children would embrace – kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude and, of course, “stick-to-it-iveness.”
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