Amazing, Heroic Consistency

Readers here (those who have not decamped to Facebook) know that I’m awed by great feats of consistency, sticking with it, keeping some worthwhile project going day after day after day until the creator has done what he set out to do.

Persistence seems like a mundane, shopkeeper’s virtue, but what good thing ever got done without it? How many people do we all know who brim with marvelous ideas and do almost nothing with them? Or they make a great start on a diet, an exercise plan, a journal, or a new life plan,  and fizzle out a few days or weeks later for reasons they can rarely articulate.

Great starts, let me tell you, are easy. It’s the follow-through that gets most of us. When we wistfully look back at the musician or painter or ballerina we once hoped to be, we too easily blame a lack of blazing genius for our failure. Perhaps we weren’t gifted like Eric Clapton or Picasso. . . or perhaps we just didn’t stay with it like they did.

My admiration for this unglamorous quality of stickwithitness led me to praise Art Garfunkle’s astonishing 40-year reading list, which, alas, you’ll have to Google for yourself because some killjoy removed the link.   It led me to read and applaud Bob Greene’s Be True to Your School: a Diary of 1964, not because Greene is any rival of Faulkner or Proust, but because, as a high school student, he set out to keep a diary of an entire year, writing on every one of its 365 days, and did it. I’d give anything to have a diary of one of my high school or college years, or my first year as a teacher, or my first year as a professional writer. Alas, I’ve tried journals probably five or six times but never made it past a month.

Now here’s another awe-inspiring example of heroic consistency. This woman set out to read–and review!–a book every day for a year. And she did it. I stand in awe:

http://www.readallday.org/the365project.html

And here is a NY Times piece  about her project.

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