Hard Work and the Story of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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In this life, nothing comes easy. The path that goes to success usually requires perseverance, ambition and hard work. May be practice doesn’t always make it perfect as Maria Konnikova discusses. [1] Still, there is something called “10000 Hours Rule” which Ericsson research showed if someone trains hard for mastering at an area, say playing piano, for some 10000 hours than that person achieves to be expert on it. Famous author Malcolm Gladwell writes long about this phenomenon in his book, Outliers. Ericsson says Gladwell misunderstood him and oversimplified the results.[2] On the other hand it is obvious that working hard brings success if there is a foundational talent for the beginning.

This week, I read a wonderful story about how Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote his famous novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude”.[3] I remember reading it years ago on a flight from Beijing to New York with mixed feelings of fear of flight and tiredness of long hours of sitting. Therefore whatever I remember about the book, I also remember the flight, flying over the North Pole and Canada to New York.

Here is an excerpt from Paul Elie’s beautiful article, which tells the history of the book:

“I did not get up for eighteen months,” he would recall. Like the book’s protagonist, Colonel Aureliano Buendía—who hides out in his workshop in Macondo, fashioning tiny gold fish with jewelled eyes—the author worked obsessively. He marked the typed pages, then sent them to a typist who made a fresh copy. He called friends to read pages aloud. Mercedes maintained the family. She stocked the cupboard with scotch for when work was done. She kept bill collectors at bay. She hocked household items for cash: “telephone, fridge, radio, jewellery,” as García Márquez’s biographer Gerald Martin has it. He sold the Opel. When the novel was finished, and Gabo and Mercedes went to the post office to send the typescript to the publisher, Editorial Sudamericana, in Buenos Aires, they didn’t have the 82 pesos for the postage. They sent the first half, and then the rest after a visit to the pawnshop.

He had smoked 30,000 cigarettes and run through 120,000 pesos (about $10,000). Mercedes asked, “And what if, after all this, it’s a bad novel?”


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