Consider the case of Chad Harbach, whose novel The Art of Fielding was reviewed in these pages last week. Hailed as a stunning literary debut, his book was a decade in the making.
In the years before its publication, Harbach chiselled out a career as a literary editor by day, and honed his debut novel by night. He would hawk his manuscript around countless agents and publishers, every one of whom would knock him back. Bloodied by rejection but defiant, Harbach continued his search for the recognition he believed his novel deserved.
His persistence, not to mention his remarkable talent, would eventually be rewarded with an enormous advance (all US$665,000 [Dh2.4m] of it) after several publishers became engaged in a protracted bidding war to secure his flawless manuscript. Critical acclaim has followed since.
Now consider the case of PG Bhaskar, the Dubai-based author of Jack Patel's Dubai Dreams.
Bhaskar is a banker by day (he prefers not to name which institution he works for), and a budding novelist by night. He was moved to write his debut fiction by the 2008 financial crisis, which arrived like "a swift kick in the pants", according to the acknowledgements page of his book.
"I'd always wanted to write a novel," he tells me over a morning coffee in one of Dubai's many shopping malls, "but there was no sense of urgency to do it. And then a whole lot of things happened in 2008 and 2009. That was a very difficult time for me personally, for the banking sector and especially for clients. When I started writing I found it was the only thing that could take my mind off what was happening. So I kept going."
Soon he finished the book and began, like Harbach and thousands of other authors before them, to search for a suitable publisher.
"Like every first-time writer I was groping in the dark," he admits. "I tried reading up about the best way to approach a publisher or an agent. I decided to look in India because many of the characters in the book are Indian. I thought there would be more of an appeal in that market.
"I wrote to four publishers and I got two rejections and two approvals on the same day. I chose the bigger name."
That bigger name was Penguin India. Having finished the book in November 2009, Bhaskar signed on the dotted line with a major publisher little more than three months later. Published in India last year, the book is now on sale in the UAE. Sometimes the journey to your destination is much quicker than you expect.
Dubai Dreams follows the fortunes of young Jai "Jack" Patel, comfortably under 30 and fresh out of business school. Patel is recruited as a financial adviser by the fictional "Wall Street colossus" Myers York and is sent from India to the firm's Dubai offices in late 2005.
The office he finds there is as imposing as the characters who fill its corridors. We meet Philippe, "a millionaire financial adviser who was looked up to by youngsters, envied by his peers, and feared by his managers". We meet Cyrus too, who is "forty, tall, a serious-looking bachelor who wore well-cut suits and - for reasons best known to him - a bow tie". Patel finds himself, initially at least, a little overwhelmed.
In these pages, the city emerges slowly, as if disturbed from a slumber. Bhaskar offers small snatches of scenery and scant commentary. Dubai's skyline is, he writes, "Las Vegas on steroids", Bur Dubai souq is a "throwback to the times when the city was still a small trading town, still on the brink of glory". The place is, according to our protagonist, a "city of dreams" on the day he picks up a ticket for one of the regular millionaire's draws at Dubai airport.
Slowly too, Patel begins to carve out a reputation on the trading desk. He lands client after client. His stock rises accordingly: "the financial world was putty in my hands," he tells us. The markets, meanwhile, continue their journey on what appears to be an upwards-only curve. Success seems assured.