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Cartoonist Gets Published After 610 Tries

Up to his neck in debt, directionless, feeling lost, Tom Toro moved back into his parents' place and slipped into a dark depression. But things started to change when Toro went to a used book sale in his hometown. He opened a cardboard box and found an old stack of The New Yorker magazines. He said, "For some reason, I was drawn toward them and I started riffling through them. Something just clicked. And I started drawing again."

Toro decided to submit some of his cartoons to the magazine. Shortly after that, he received a reply. It was his first rejection note, of the many still to come. Toro said, "The New Yorker found the way to most courteously and most briefly reject people. It's just beautiful. You feel so honored to receive it and yet it's a brushoff."

A year and a half later, Toro had a pile of rejection letters. This continued until Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor at The New Yorker, gave Toro some honest and specific feedback. Mankoff said he didn't see any joy in Toro's cartoons. So Toro threw everything that he had done previously out the door, sat down with a blank sheet of paper. Recalling Mankoff's advice, he tried to draw from the heart. He was still receiving rejection letters in the mail, but his cartoons were getting better. Toro was finding his style. And then, one day, he wandered into his office to check his email. He said, "I went in there, logged in, and there sitting at the top of my inbox was an email. The subject line read, 'Cartoon Sold.'" It was the 610th drawing Toro had submitted to The New Yorker.

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Perseverance; Tenacity; Discouragement; (2) Rebuke; Honesty; Correction—Toro needed the honest feedback and correction from Mankoff before he could improve; (3) Spiritual disciplines—How often do we "fail" at spiritual disciplines—fasting, meditation, and so forth—before we finally get it right.

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