In 2002, Markus Zusak sat down to write a book.
He began by mapping out the beginning and the end of the story. Then, he started listing out chapter headings, pages of them. Some made it into the final story, many were cut.
When Zusak began to write out the story itself, he tried narrating it from the perspective of Death. It didn’t come out the way he wanted.
He re-wrote the book, this time through the main character’s eyes. Again, something was off.
He tried writing it from an outsider’s perspective. Still no good.
He tried present tense. He tried past tense. Nothing. The text didn’t flow.
He revised. He changed. He edited. By his own estimation, Zusak rewrote the first part of the book 150 to 200 times. In the end, he went back to his original choice and wrote it from the perspective of Death. This time—the 200th time—it felt right. When all was said and done it had taken Zusak three years to write his novel. He called it The Book Thief.
In an interview after his book was finally released, Zusak said, “In three years, I must have failed over a thousand times, but each failure brought me closer to what I needed to write, and for that, I’m grateful.” 
The book exploded in popularity. It stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for over 230 weeks. It sold 8 million copies. It was translated into 40 languages. A few years later, Hollywood came calling and turned The Book Thief into a major motion picture.
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