Novelist Rex Pickett recently shared the story of how his writing life fell apart in the 1990s, coping with countless rejections and personal problems before publishing Sideways.

On the Other People podcast (founded by author and Nervous Breakdown founder by Brad Listi), Pickett explained how he survived this dark period. Sideways would later be adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Alexander Payne.

Check it out: “At the time that I wrote it, I was in such a state of despair and destitution (if you want to know the truth). My fear was that if I wrote a novel that was despairing–which mirrored the state of my soul at the time–that no one would read it … The 90s was a tough decade for me to hang in there. I wrote a mystery novel … but we couldn’t sell it. I takes a long time in the traditional publishing world to find out. We’re talking 70 to 80 rejection letters.”

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