We All Tilt at Windmills

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And You Complain About Finding Time to Create?

One of the greatest novels of all time was written under the worst conditions.

I’ve heard every excuse under the sun that keeps people from writing, designing, composing, and otherwise creating great work. “I’m too busy and can’t find the time,” ranks right at the top, along with whining, “I get distracted,” or “I’m tired after working at my day job.” But recently I was reminded of the challenges Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes experienced, and suddenly, our feeble excuses don’t sound like much.

For those living in a cave all their lives, Don Quixote was published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615. Yes, that makes it 400 years old. Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of “Don Quixote” (1605). Cervantes was a soldier. He had fought and been badly injured at the 1571 battle of Lepanto; later he was captured by Barbary pirates and held as a slave by the Ottomans for five years while awaiting ransom. He made repeated attempts to escape in full knowledge of the gruesome fate that awaited him the moment his captors decided he was more trouble than he was worth: One slave who helped him in one of his attempts was tortured to death before his eyes. When he was finally freed at last, he became a playwright and tax collector and actually spent time in prison for debt. It was in prison that he began his great work. Although “Don Quixote” was an immediate and extraordinary success, Cervantes made (in the absence of any form of copyright) little from it and died in poverty. “Don Quixote” is indisputably one of the greatest novels of all time.

Always keep in mind that whatever crisis you’re experiencing could be the forge that fires your greatest creativity. So until we get wounded in battle, held as a slave, spent time in prison (or all of the above), we should all shut up and get back to work.

To Your Success…

Scott

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