Robert Caro had a problem.
He was researching and writing an in-depth biography of Robert Moses, the highly acclaimed “master builder” of New York City, who lived 1888 to 1981. Originally, Caro thought the book might take a year.
He was wrong. Bad wrong.
After a couple of years working on the book, his income ran out and he had to find a way to support his family. They sold the house.
After a couple of years, that money ran out.
He kept working.
In time, he was embarrassed when friends would say, “What are you working on?” and he would tell them he was still on the same book. “How long have you been working on that book?” He would mutter, “Five years.”
Five years. Caro felt like a failure.
The original publisher, the one that had advanced him $2,500 with the warning that no one would want to read a book on Robert Moses, finally cut him loose. He signed on with another agent, a good one, and in time ended up with a 1300 page book that won the Pulitzer.
A 1300 page book. It won the Pulitzer. Don’t miss that.
But long before that, while Caro was in the throes of writing and researching and feeling alone…