16The Relentless Pursuit of Yes

Instead of me walking through the door, I just knocked the whole door down.

—Shaquem Griffin

Hammer in hand, Stephen tapped a nail into the wall near the small desk where he wrote. He was fourteen when he pushed his first rejection letter onto the nail. By the age of sixteen, the nail could no longer support the weight of the rejection letters he'd received. So he replaced the nail with a spike and kept writing.

Years later, after college, two kids, awful jobs, bad bosses, and being stone-cold broke, he was still writing and still collecting rejections.

He sold stories here and there but eventually settled for a teaching job to support his young family. It still wasn't enough to make ends meet. Living in a double-wide trailer, driving a broken-down car, and scraping by paycheck to paycheck, he struggled just to cover the cost of basic medicine when his kids got sick.

The stress made it harder and harder to find time to write and pursue his true passion. But he never gave up. He filled his spare time with writing and continued to collect rejection letters.

On an afternoon like most others in his day-to-day life, he was sitting in his classroom at school grading papers. He heard the intercom speakers crackle on, and someone spoke his name. “Stephen, come to the front office please.”

As he reached the office, he saw his wife standing there and immediately thought the worst. But that day, his life changed forever. His wife was clutching an acceptance ...

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