“I might not be more skilled than other scientists,” Einstein once said, “but I have the persistence of a mule.” I’m not one to take Einstein’s virtue lightly; yeah, in part because the quote is in my name. My opinion really doesn’t matter, but since you’re reading I guess I’ll pull my pants down a bit and tell you more about how this passion of writing came to be.
I thought it was a wise decision during my senior year as an undergraduate, when I really first started to write for the thrill of it, to read my share on those of the same caliber as Einstein. I was looking for inspiration, to new start a new branch in my life. Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Richard Pryor, Stephen Hawking, Sigeru Miyomoto, Hugh Hefner, Edwin Armstrong, Theodore Roosevelt, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin were some of the people that met that same standard for me. These individuals thrived not because they were granted the gift of ability (not to take anything away from them); they succeeded rather because they had hearts of gold. They never gave up.
While I do not feel comfortable laying judgement on myself, I will acknowledge that I’ve always been persistent. My last name has always been a good fit for me I was often the stubborn fool in my youth–an absolute mule! As I’ve learned to take off my mask and put on my glasses, however, I’ve decided that my family name should not represent stubbornness at all, but rather pure willpower.
I’ve always felt though that I’ve got to earn my keep every step of the way; and so I owe an explanation to my readers of my own claim of this whacky word in persistence. Why do I make this claim? How does one simple word relate to my newborn creative writing career?
My father would always say to my siblings and I a phrase of Churchill’s creation, he’d whisper to me, “Son, you can do this. Never, ever give up.”
Take for example during my little league days when I was as blind as a bat in a cave. In my career I had no more than four hits. Ricky would walk up to me while in the batter’s box. He would quote Winston Churchill. “You can do this, my son!”
I grew angry with him as I did not believe in the power of dedication. The narrative of my story changed in middle school. I was on the chubby side, still with my fair share of baby fat. I had finally been granted the gift of sight after a surgery; the doctors rewired my right eye. Suddenly, my heart started to sing a new tune. Two football gurus eventually recruited me as one of the many students to participate in their program. My mother was scared silly when I told her I was aiming to make the team. I had never been any good at baseball, and I would sit in the middle of the soccer field to avoid any danger just a few years prior! I persisted through the drills. I went to practice everyday and then I went home and I practiced more. It is an old story told by many who are more athletic than I could ever wish to be, but the hard work paid off. I left the football program lighter by near twenty pounds.
I was still a naive boy, but not once have I given up on what matters to me since my time there on that football field just outside the school gymnasium. I still carry a piece of paper that was given to me by my coaches; we hereby grant Christopher Mulé the Dedication, Determination, and Drive Award.
My stepfather, a career stonemason, further showed me through example what a persistent mindset can accomplish. He never wavered in nearly ten years of arduous labor to purchase over three hundred acres of land from a developer of which is now a state park of ten times the original size. I remember the ribbon cutting ceremony and how much the slice of a piece of thread had forever changed me; and so I began to mimic my stepfather, as any son would do, in an attempt to better myself.
Just like any other person, the mentors came and went from all different avenues of life and all sorts of different places. There were teachers who carved me a path forward. There was a television station that gave me back my sense of creativity (all they had to do was hand me a camera and a tripod). There were fraternity brothers and sisters who taught me a great many things. There were authors from across the globe who encouraged me through their willingness to share their many gifts. There were friends who put me in my place when I was rude or unaware of social norms. There were siblings who kept me humble. There were aunts, uncles, cousins, et cetera, all of whom encouraged me when no one else would do so. I am to this very day very lucky to have these fascinating and life-changing mentors and friends. Of course I had a corporate lawyer for a mother too, so snoozing was off the table.
My mother began a second career as the Associate Director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, and so I soon followed her there in the hopes to seek her guidance whenever trouble called. We enjoyed quite the many coffee breaks and lunch hours. College brought both highs and lows; it was your average rollercoaster experience.
I’ll mention briefly that during my first semester of freshmen year I had lost my father to a great illness. Though tragedy had struck, I had finally learned of the power of his words in the purest sense; I yet persisted in his honor despite my every wish to crumble.
By my senior year, with my life repaired thanks to loved ones, it became apparent that my grandfather had a wish that needed granting. He desired to know more of our history and wanted to ensure that all of our stories remained in the family lore. The history book that I started then has been completed and dates back well before his time. In giving back to those that I love, my father watching from above, I was given an unexpected gift. My creative writing career was birthed into existence.
The critiques have been hard to swallow at times, but I decided that I would keep going despite a lack of experience. I set a goal of getting just one creative piece published before I graduated college. It was a lofty goal, but why not aim for the sky?
I finally decided that I had written a piece worthy of a submission for publication about a month before graduation was slotted to take place. That very first piece is now published in an anthology series called Seven Deadly Sins, A YA Anthology. I found out just six days before I graduated from the school of business. The road ahead may be difficult, but I’ve fallen for pen and paper. I’ll have the persistence of a Mulé every step of the way. Never ever give up.