How a Quote Became a Book on Success for Kids

When I was in college, I had this quote that read, “Strong people would rather be weak.” It was somewhat an ambiguous saying that I came up with to describe situations when you had to keep pushing forward even when you had long been ready to give up. There are many times in life where you may have to stand strong for yourself, a family member, a friend, or a co-worker while on the inside you would rather just crawl back into bed and succumb to your own problems. It’s easier and takes no effort. We often assume the person who is always bubbly and positive on the outside is not going through anything on the inside.

I occasionally seem to punish myself and my son for some reason by trying to explain these concepts to him even though he was only in elementary school at the time. So there I was one day talking about the quote, and got the inspiration to create an entire poem from other quotes related to strength that I had come up with over the years. My son had outgrown the characters on his bedroom wall from The Super Hero Squad Show, and wasn’t really into sports teams just yet, so I thought it would be neat to have motivational posters on his wall. When I showed him the poem and described how I could turn it into a poster, he thought it was a great idea. While he certainly didn’t understand every word and the meaning behind every line in the poem, he loved the concept of choosing one word to describe the habits of success. So the first poem and poster became “Success is Strength” and over the course of many weeks he added to my growing list of words that I would eventually turn into poems. The second poster came from this set of poems and was titled, “Success is Flexibility.”

The production quality of the posters was so good that I decided to offer them for sale to various educators and professionals who worked with kids. Creating and shipping posters for small runs is very expensive. You have the license fees for allowing you to resell the images as part of another work for multiple runs. You then have the production costs associated with large format prints. The real kicker was the shipping costs. Rolled posters are hard to ship and need to be in a thick-walled cardboard tube. Several times the tube would arrive to customers crushed. I even tried a thick-walled tube inside a triangular tube for added protection. An elongated parcel that’s also heavy adds to your shipping costs because UPS and the U.S. Postal Service like boxes, not tubes – boxes stack and fit in the trucks nicely, so you pay a premium for tubes.

A movie or sports team poster from a store in the mall would cost a person less than $4 – my masterpiece would cost almost $20 just to break even. Working a full-time job, I wasn’t going to have time to visit every school and karate dojo to hand out posters. So what about a book?

A book is compact and very easy to ship – just ask Jeff Bezos. If you know a little about the publishing industry, it is like the music industry. Everyone can sing and everyone wants a record deal. Book publishers get barraged with hundreds of thousands of manuscripts every year, each person hoping to be the next J. K. Rowling or E. L. James. You may also guess that of the books that publishers are most interested in selling, poems are at the very bottom of the list. Even to professional writers, poems are like instant cake mix to a wedding cake baker.

In November 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report which suggested that the suicide rate for children and adolescents aged 10–14 years was higher than deaths from motor vehicle traffic injury for the same age group. NPR wrote an article on this report describing how middle-school suicides was at an all-time high. Various reasons were given including the rise of social media and the age in which young people were starting to engage with this relatively new medium. Even in my own son’s school there were kids in 4th grade with active Facebook accounts. The story was disheartening and sparked me to get my book published.

Whether you believe the statistics or not, today’s children are exposed to hurtful things that can last a lifetime. At the same time, there has been an attempt by many parents (myself, guilty as charged) to shelter their kids from the bad things in life. This combination has left kids less prepared to achieve their goals, deal with setbacks and obstacles. The kids will truly be alright even if not a single person ever buys my book. But this self-published work is my way of leaving a little reminder for the next generation – for that kid who would rather be weak. I hope this work inspires every reader who may turn the pages. From a quote, to a poem, to a poster, to a children’s book, it’s been a crazy journey, but I hope it’s just the beginning. Success is what you make it.

SuccessBrian Wright