What Determination Can Do

One man. Forty years. And an enormous amount of determination. 

On Sunday, my family and I visited a legendary site in Colorado. Bishop's Castle. Jim Bishop began building a stone cottage in 1969, and was working on it when we stopped by. The highest parts of the castle soar to over 160 feet above the ground, and are covered with elaborate ironworks. Visitors are invited to explore every inch of the castle, climbing innumerable steps to dizzying heights--at their own risk, of course. 

The most amazing thing is that Bishop has accomplished all this alone. And without the kinds of tools you'd expect. He gathers the rocks from the forest with a shovel and wheelbarrow. He hoists them up the walls with a pulley system and a pickup truck. Bishop is nearing seventy years old.

Standing in front of the massive structure made me think. One person with a dream, who never gives up, can accomplish far more than anyone imagines. Those of us who labor at writing, alone, facing the roadblocks of a giant publishing industry, can feel like giving up sometimes. 

Jim Bishop chooses stones like a writer chooses words, selecting some and discarding others. Fitting them together in just the perfect way to fashion a winding staircase or a soaring turret. He's endured ridicule, government restrictions, and (according to him) more broken fingers than he can remember.

Yet he's never given up. Not even when he burned both palms down to the bone.  I want that kind of determination. To finish each novel. To hone my craft. To leave something beautiful to inspire others.

What do you think?

For more on Bishop's Castle, check out this video, or this slideshow.


  1. Wow and very generous to allow people to explore and share in his creation.

  2. Wow, this certainly inspired me! Great blog Debbie, I'm more determined than ever to dream big, write true, and do what I can to get things published.
    Thank You,

  3. It really is encouraging to see what someone can accomplish if they don't give up!


  4. Thanks for sharing this! It's been awhile since we've been there, and I can't believe how much has changed. It looks amazing!
    I like your application to writing too. Stone by stone. Word by word. We're building something beautiful.

  5. Wow! What a building! Also a great post. It is very true. Determination is usually the thing that wins the day.

  6. Congrats on finishing Immmortal Heathcliff, Evangeline! I was wondering if you'd taken your boys there--though I'd be worried they'd fall off!

    S.M., I know you've got that kind of determination. Anyone who can write 3K a day on a regular basis is right up there with this guy!




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