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The concept of an overnight success is almost mythical. Even when someone has a more public trajectory of success, there’s often a whole trail of setbacks, struggles, and outright failures most people aren’t seeing.

Jen Hatmaker‘s success as an author seems linear enough. Write great books, sell a lot, rinse and repeat. Truth be told, being a New York Times bestselling author is built upon, well, being a not-so-bestseller at one point.

There were a lot of books Hatmaker wrote before anybody was following along, before anybody was waiting in line, or clamoring for more content.

What kept her going?

“I knew I just had this in me. I knew it” she says, “I knew this was eventually going to be my work.”

Hatmaker says those years of lackluster success taught her how to work hard for the love of the work, not accolades. Furthermore, it taught her how to learn and hone her craft outside of the public eye.

“I’m not sorry. I’m glad for those years” she says, “I’m thankful that I got to put my head down and just work hard and just stick with it when there was no success to be found.”