This past week I read my very first Agatha Christie novel.
I know, I know . . . no judging.
Last night, I finished And Then There Were None. Just saying, I might have had trouble going to sleep. Agatha Christie is amazing!
But what I loved best was the Author’s Note at the beginning. It was an excerpt from An Autobiography (obviously hers):
“I had written this book because it was so difficult to do that the idea had fascinated me. . . . It was well-received and reviewed, but the person who was really pleased with it was myself, for I knew better than any critic how difficult it had been.”
I love that! I love that she openly admits how hard it was to write this. Agatha Christie, pretty much the best-selling author ever, had to WORK for it. And she didn’t let the hardness of it stop her. She pushed through until she succeeded. Until she’d written a perfectly chilling book that confused and baffled, yet had a logical explanation.
The woman was brilliant!
And I say that not because everything came to her easily. I say it because she didn’t quit. She pushed herself to continue. To solve the puzzle. To do the nearly un-doable.
And when she’d finished, it didn’t matter what others thought. She knew what she had accomplished.
What are you pushing yourself to achieve?
The Arc de Triomphe is another signature site of Paris.
This monument was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to honor his great victories as a general. He had proclaimed himself Emperor in 1804, and he was revered by the people for basically bringing greatness back to France after the horrors of the Revolution.
Construction began in 1809, and before it was finished, Napoleon was forced to abdicate (1814) by the French generals, and was banished from France not once, but twice (first to Elba, then to St. Helena after attempting a comeback).
Now you would think that given the circumstances, the French might have decided not to finish the monument, or at the very least dedicate it to someone else, but no. When construction was completed 19 years (19 years!!!) after Napoleon’s death, they had his body exhumed from his grave in St. Helena and paraded under the Arc on the way to its final resting place in the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides.
Turns out that many French people still saw him as a hero, despite his downfall. And in fact, the epitaph on his tombstone simply says “Here lies . . . ” because they couldn’t agree with the British about what to call him: hero vs. tyrant?
So, if you aren’t yet bored to tears over another history lesson, here is my writing analogy . . . so many to choose from with Napoleon.
But I choose to focus on perseverence.The French saw the building of the Arc de Triomphe to the end despite the obstacles they faced. Surely there must have been a moment where they questioned whether or not the monument to a leader fallen from grace was worth the resources it was taking. But they moved forward, and their work is beautiful. It is universally admired.
As writers, we too will face obstacles. We will find numerous reasons to quit and wash our hands of this tyrant that binds us down. But if we quit, we’ll never know the works we might have produced. The influence we might have had over countless others. I imagine that other European nations mocked the French for their folly, but not anymore.
So finish those Arcs! Fight the good fight! And never give up! (And I do believe that this was basically Napoleon’s philosophy, too.) 😉