Japanese flourishes at the Berkshires Shirakaba.
My dad, a successful salesman, left me with three very sound words of advice: Persistence Pays Off. I never had the patience to adopt this mantra. Nor did I understand (or think I had what it took) to truly keep my head down, ignore linear time, abandon the need for instant gratification and just keep at something. Until now.
Five years ago, while sharing a cheeseburger at Diner my husband and I stopped our wrestling with the what-ifs and decided to move to New York. It’s that convincing of a burger. Plus, I was motivated by an inkling to make a career change. A change which is happening now, still very slowly, but there has been an evolution of sorts.
It’s hard to know when to consider a path complete folly or worth continuing down, especially when you’re defining things for yourself. In veering off my other career path, I’ve found that this new one isn’t guided by promotions, an office with a window, performance reviews or raises that signal progress.
So I’ve established my own benchmarks. And the one I set, the one that meant ‘Ok, you’re really doing it now, keep going’ was rather lofty for a no-name cold-calling writer: a story in The New York Times Travel section. For every year that I continued to send proposals (some were answered, others were not) I would return to my dad saying “Laur, persistence pays off.” I just kept hoping he was right.
Well, he was. I did eventually have a pitch accepted and was assigned a story. I think the most real moment of being published occurred the week after the piece ran when I snagged the section from a pile of papers plunked down on the curb left out for recycling day.
I was thrilled to write the piece which balanced my fascination of Japanese culture, love of an off-beat adventure and need to travel a little closer to home as a parent. And people were immensely supportive of my little moment in print. Being published, or more importantly realizing all that persistence-pays-off business is true, also marks that I’ve arrived at a place where I better understand my dad’s wisdom. It goes without saying that I wish he could have been here to see the story in print, if only for me to be able to tell him that he was right.