Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Thank you God for failure

Yesterday's New York Times carried an article about the Republican nominee for President, drawing on the last extensive biographical interviews he gave before running for President.

The picture the article draws is of a man so afraid of failure that he literally cannot allow himself to do so. In other words, he readjusts reality to make failures into victories as a coping mechanism.

It's illuminating as all get out for what this man is all about, but for the first time, I started to feel sorry for him.

I feel sorry for him because without failure there is no real success. Unless you've fallen off your bike and skinned your knee, there's no soaring sense of achievement when you pedal to the end of the block and remain upright, skin intact.

I think back on some of the epic failures of my life.
There've been more than a few, most of my own making.
Times I rushed in to things when I should have walked.
Times I was sure I knew the right way, when I didn't.
Times I should have kept quiet, and didn't.

I'm going to take a wild guess and suggest you might have a list too.

Certainly if you've written a novel or ten, you've got some concrete examples of things you've tried that just didn't work. Sometimes you don't even know why.

And sometimes you think they DO work, but no one else seems to think so.
That one's really hard isn't it?

But it is these failures that teach us, shape us, and help us grow. It is failure, and our response to it that builds character.

My dad used to say that one hallmark of a good man was having the right enemies.

I'll adapt that to say that the hallmark of a good writer is having the right failures.

To risk and fail is better than not risking but not succeeding.
And acknowledging failure for all its pain and embarrassment is better than claiming the deck is stacked against you. (I'm speaking of publishing here, not the electoral process.)

The deck is stacked against everyone in publishing. All of us. Some of you will succeed. Others won't. Failure is the norm. Recognizing that, coming to peace with that, is freeing. It makes you free to try, to risk, to soar. To fail.

I don't like to fail. I'm sure you don't either.

But today I am thanking God for failure, because I do intend to succeed and I know I can't unless I start with a skinned knee.


Unknown said...

Love the dad mention. At my dad's funeral, I told a atory about one of the life lessons he taught me. We were skiing when I was about six. I got to the bottom of the hill beaming. "Dad, I went down three times without falling once!" He asks, "You know what the means don't you?" I had no idea. "It means it's time to try a bigger hill!" Lifelong advice from a wonderful man. Thanks for the reminder Janet.

DLM said...

"(T)he hallmark of a good writer is having the right failures."

So true, and learning to practice gratitude for our personal failures is the only way to become fully grati*fied* and fulfilled as a human being. You've certainly put your finger on the issue with the candidate, though I will leave discussion of him for someone else or somewhere else.

You just did to my heart what Gossamer does when he purrs on my shoulder. Thank you.

Susan Bonifant said...

I love this.

When we were raising small children, we had to MAKE ourselves let them fail, to gift them the experience of doing it right the next time, their way.

DLM said...

Kathy, that is a great scene, I can SEE y'all, cold and smiling and looking up the mountain for the right slope!

I'll be in the lodge, making hot chocolate for everyone.

JeffO said...

Great piece, Janet. Thank you.

AJ Blythe said...

It's hard to fail, but even harder to have regret. Thanks for the reminder, JR.

Theresa said...

Thanks, Janet. It's good to be reminded that there is an upside to failure.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

AJ...speaking of regret.

I just finished a column (not out yet) about regret, "...the path to my past is lined with trees with "regret" carved in each one."

It's how big the scar, failure and regret mark within our lives which seasons us.
To me it's all about learning what it's like to 'live' our lives as tryers, failures, doers, get-back-uppers and succeeders.

Great post BTW.

Sherry Howard said...

I love your message today. "The deck is stacked against everyone in publishing." That's so important to remember. Your writing may be wonderful, and still have a hard time finding a publishing home. I wish young writers would always keep that in mind!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

My non writing friends are staggered by the amount of failures one goes through before (and after) successes start happening, when it comes to submitting stories and querying novels. Reiders are probably familiar with the patter of when people ask "Well, have you thought about self publishing?" ^^

God, I miss my dad. He didn't get to see my first publishing success, but he was proud of me anyway.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Yes, been there, done that.

For the past year or so in my daytime job, I've been comparing myself to colleagues. Deadly attitude until I realized some of my colleagues started with different types of advantages or skills that I don't have. And I found Malcolm Gladwell's 2008, Outliers, a book I've needed for this time in my life.

Even though there are failures behind me, there are also successes, maybe some are small in the eyes of the world but they're still successes. And I am grateful.

Thank you, Janet, for persevering.

Colin Smith said...

Yup. I will totally concur with the NYT on this one. Everything I've read about RNP (the Republican Nominee for President) concurs with this assessment. He doesn't lose. If he can't win a court case, the judge isn't qualified. If he's not confident of winning an election, the system's rigged. He hasn't even done anything bad enough to warrant God's attention--at least in his eyes. It makes me wonder why he got in this race to begin with. You know as soon as you enter a race for public office, your life comes under scrutiny and the harshest, most unforgiving judgment.

And here's our take-away, to build on Janet's words of wisdom. RNP has failed. Many times. Whether in business, in public decorum, in his marriages, or whatever arena of his life we have unwittingly been made privy to, RNP has failed. But his biggest failure is refusing to own his failures, and learning from them to be a better person.

I have tried and failed to get representation for two novels so far. And each one has been a valuable experience, showing me weaknesses in my writing, and providing direction. I've tried and failed in many other ways, some in areas where I'm normally quite competent. But that's how we grow, even in the things we're good at.

A good and timely reminder, Janet. Thanks! :)

Kitty said...

Japanese proverb: Fall seven times and stand up eight.

Hermina Boyle said...

Failure is a pretty loaded word. 'You're a failure.' 'Your work is a failure.' These words can paralyze, cripple, kill our creativity and hope.

Failure doesn't teach us anything. In and of itself, it doesn't shape us or help us grow.

Failure is rejection. It is a door slammed in our face. In some ways, it is unfair.

It's what we do with that rejection, that slammed door, that injustice that defines not only our path to success, but our character.

Learning from our mistakes, learning how something failed, may be a slow, painful and embarrassing process, but it is the willingness to learn - and not the failure itself - that frees us, that creates opportunity, and eventually brings us peace.

S.P. Bowers said...

Love this!

Susan said...

Janet, this is one of my favorite posts of yours. Through all the generous advice you offer about publishing, I love when you add a little life wisdom to the mix.

And Kathy, your reply is the perfect response to what it means to try and keep trying.

I used to be ambitious before I got sick. I was young and had stars in my eyes and the energy to persevere in my heart. But when you face something that will change your life in one of two ways, both of them irrevocably, you begin to reevaluate what dreams and success means to you. You begin to count each victory as one that matters--because it does matter. Some days, that means getting out of bed. Some days, that means accomplishing whatever you wanted to accomplish in the face of adversity.

What I've learned is that success looks different according to where we've been and where we stand now, and that, like life, it's fluid--always changing according new goals, new dreams, and new wisdom, new circumstances. New versions of us. Twenty-something year old me would have never thought I'd own my own business and be an indie author. Thirty-something year old me can't believe I'm literally still standing. I count both as blessings. I count both as success.

Trying and failing--and trying and changing--is half of what makes the success so sweet.

Mister Furkles said...

The picture the article draws is of a man so afraid of failure that he literally cannot allow himself to do so.

It is true that Barbaro wrote his article thus. But it is obviously nonsense. Nobody afraid of failure would ever contemplate engaging in extremely high risk resort real estate development. Rather, I suspect Trump hates failure.

There is a huge [no Trumpism intended] difference between fear-of-failure and hate-of-failure. His criticism of Hall may have been that he thought Hall quit trying. I recall a comment by Cardinal centerfielder Curt Flood. When Flood first came up to the majors he was astonished that Stan “The Man” Musial took batting practice—perhaps with a batting machine—until his hand were red and raw. That is the kind of thing you do when you hate failure.

I’ve known a number of people who hate failure and they engage in high risk careers but also work harder than anybody else. Those who fear failure don’t try. So while Janet’s comments are spot on, the article by Barbaro is nonsense.

Susan said...

Crap. I swore to myself I wouldn't write long, rambly comments anymore. Welp, there's my fail for the day.

Craig F said...

To cherish a journey is an acquired taste. Some don't get there.

To exploit the nuance of that journey's ups and down is a state of mind. Some don't get there either.

These are things that can make you a better writer. You can build characters around those insights. There also places for shallow characters such as the one discussed. If you wish to write about a psychotic you could find a lot of worse character studies.

It is not a fear of failure or a hatred of failure at work here. It is a continuing gamble. He tosses the dice to see how they will fall because his attention span is too short to consider anything. To hide this he uses bluster and hatred. Sounds a lot like George Wallace to me.

Dena Pawling said...

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Thomas A. Edison

My #2 son is disabled. He found quite a few ways that won't work before he was potty trained at age 8. He found quite a few ways that won't work before he said his first word at age 10. He found quite a few ways that won't work before he learned to tie his shoes at age 20! There is no one so proud of himself, no smile quite so big, as a 20yo who can finally tie his shoes like all the other big boys can.

Keep finding ways that won't work until you find the way it DOES work for you. And count ALL of your successes, even those that seem so small and insignificant. They're bigger than you think.

Donnaeve said...

I know of an author, Jessica Lahey, who wrote the book, THE GIFT OF FAILURE, which was intended for parents. I've not read it, but based on what I know, it contained a message to not try to "fix" everything in their kid's lives - allow them to fail, b/c it's the only way they can learn, grow and ultimately be successful.


For instance, what if everyone around you said, oh, it's great, fine, no worries, perfect, you are wonderful, no need to do anything else? How would you ever improve? Recognizing a failure, and/or knowing you failed, is a key to building the incentive to do better (IMO).

Cheryl said...

Dena, I credit growing up with a cognitively disabled brother for my flexibility. I was his primary teacher when we were little, and I learned to look at problems from every different direction to help him learn.

I've spent my life in mediocrity, never failing too much, never succeeding too much. I don't let failure get me down because I know it'll all balance out. I know some incredibly gifted (white, male) adults who need to learn that lesson.

And I also, probably because of that same brother, know that you can't learn without practicing.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

My old adage is “there is no such thing as a loser who keeps trying”. Fear of failure will paralyze you. I know. I've stood in that oppressive shadow myself. I am the poster child for doing things the wrong way. If there was a harder road to take, I took it. And yeah, I’m a scarred, messy individual who would never do well under the intense scrutiny of American politics. Explaining my tattoos alone would likely undo me. I work better in Carkoon where the most malodorous candidate is automatically elected.

There is great beauty in imperfection if only because there exists so much possibility in our little quirks and flaws, especially when writing up a character that will be of interest to anyone. Great writing often shouts to the world that it is possible to overcome our failures or warn against that dead end road with the shiny, golden sign post.

Yeah, feelings are hurt by words like "you're a failure." It took me a long time to learn, but when someone disparages you personally with that kind of phrase (there is nothing constructive in this kind of remark), that is more about them than you. I've learned to shake it off and keep moving. Not my hurt to keep.

Freedom to fail is essential for people to grow and society to evolve. We are LOSING that. This is why conventions like the participation trophy, no red ink for grading, safe spaces in universities are such terrible ideas.

All of those serve to keep a generation infantile for their entire existence and keep them from ever learning anything at all. Sure, they feel like the most special snowflakes ever, but they’re incapable of doing anything, thinking on their own, forming logical arguments, or coping with any kind of misfortune. They can be broken by an insensitive remark. This world is rampant with the cruel and vindictive. In short, we are denying these children and young people to ability to fail, to steel themselves in misfortune, and to learn from their mistakes.

Life is hard and unfair. Period. Wear a cup. Especially if storming the beast that is publishing. Best learn to cope with the fact that sometimes we all lose, sometimes we fail, sometimes there are issues on which people will never all agree, and sometimes our answers are all wrong. 2+2 is NOT equal to 5. No matter how good the intentions are to make it so.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Okay... This hit me right in the feels and made me teary-eyed. Subtle but powerful. Really powerful. Partly because of the dad mention. I was ridiculously close to my parents and miss them every single day. They had both passed before my books were published, but I acknowledge them mightily throughout my stories.

This post, Ms. Janet, also resonates because I've recently allowed fear to immobilize me in my writing life. My comfort zone is nonfiction. I've somehow managed to convince myself I don't have the chops for fiction. So here I sit on two completed manuscripts, terrified of querying. I made a self-deprecating joke the other day that I'll be revising my query letter till the day I die. But this post... your words... just made my heart skip a beat or two and gave me the inspiration "to try, to risk, to soar. To fail." And if I fail, if that's what happens, I'll try again. *sniff *sniff Seriously teary-eyed and inspired here. Thank you.

Something my dad always said: "It's all part of the rich fabric of life."

Panda in Chief said...

Thanks for today's post, Janet, and everyone's comments.
Success is all the sweeter when it comes after struggles.
I've had my share of both, and am glad my younger self survived to be my older self, so that I now know how much the struggle taught me.

Thank you everyone for being here in the struggle together.

Colin Smith said...

Melanie: From my experiences so far with querying, let me give you some encouragement. Go ahead. Query. If one of those novels is ready to query (i.e., it's in the best shape you and your beta readers know how to get it), go for it. The chances are you won't find an agent for it. Yes, the odds are against you. But query it anyway. Going through the process of putting your work out there, getting rejections, maybe getting a nibble or two, is SO worth it. Besides, you stand a better chance of getting offers of representation if you query than if you don't query. (This is true for many things in life--if you do it, there's a chance you'll succeed; if you don't, there's no chance you'll succeed.) And as slim as that chance might be, that chance exists. You never know.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Thanks, Janet. This is what I needed this particular morning.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

HUGS to you, Colin. HUGS to all of you.

RosannaM said...

Don't have time to read all the comments now, but will later today, because this is such an interesting topic.

Lisa Bodenheim I love Malcolm Gladwell books! In fact just a couple of the FF contests ago, I snuck in the titles to 5 of his books, and gave one of my characters the name Malcolm. And sadly, I failed!! But I am proud of that little story.

I am going to fail again. I hope I will fail spectacularly.

Lucie Witt said...

I can say with certainty I only landed an agent because of a plethora of failures. The book I signed was a YA. I learned how to write a YA from the whole entire book I discarded because I tried to shove a MG idea in a YA format. The book I signed was decently plotted. I learned how to plot by throwing out at least 3 full length novels with terrible plotting. The book I signed with had a strong central conflict. I know how to write a strong central conflict because I threw out two books where I failed to do so.

Dig this post, obviously.

Colin - congrats on the house!

Adib Khorram said...

Thanks for a great post, Janet!

One of my colleagues likes to say "Put your worst foot forward." When you embrace your failures is when you can grow and learn from them; and sharing your failures with others is an opportunity to connect with them, because there are few experiences more universal, more human, than failure.

Steve Stubbs said...

Somehow I don’t see the learning process as failure. I see GIVING UP as failure. Surely, you have seen this before, but if you have not, check it out:

Favorite lines from this:

If you can deal with triumph and disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same.

People who enjoy learning do not consider the learning experience as failure. There is a difference between daring to lose and choosing Loser as a lifestyle. Losers proudly (and loudly) proclaim themselves to the world as Losers (as in, “I AM a failure.”)

Temporary setbacks are just speed bumps on the drag strip of life.

Craig got the comparison wrong. Trump’s political role model is not George Wallace (who was actually a Ted Kennedy liberal masquerading as a racist out ot fear of the KKK.) Trump’s role model is Adolf Hitler. Xenophobia, racism, misogyny, ethnic cleaning, disdain for the disabled, all come from the Hitler playbook. Trump does not bug me. The dangerous people are the rednecks who are champing at the bits to vote for him, just as Hitler’s supporters did. Hitler was just a corporal with a raspy voice. His millions of supporters were the ones who were dangerous.

The NY Slumlord reality show will continue long after November regardless of which loser loses. Stop watching CNN until he keels over.

Then they have to go into reruns.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Thank you all for the words of wisdom in this comment thread (and thank you Janet for the wisdom of the post)! It's a strange idea, but I think "If you're always succeeding, then you're not reaching high enough" is a good guideline for how to live a full life.

I'm also grateful for all the cool pieces of advice here. My dad isn't a wise man and he isn't a good man, but he's taught me a lot about failure by the way he lives. He uses his failures as excuses to rest easy. That decision has ruined his life and the lives around him. Trying again isn't just the right thing to do - it's the only way to really live.

JulieWeathers said...

I think Trump was impressed early on to hate failure. He was driven to please his father. That can be good, but it's walking a razor thin wire at times between a force for good and an unhealthy obsession.

I think it's sad when parents imprint these fatal flaws on their children. In reading about Hemingway's personal life, I have often wished I could have just been a friend to him, wanting nothing but a simple friendship. His mother told him all his life he was a failure because he couldn't live up to the greatness that was her father. What a burden to put on a child.

I've created my own little Hemingway in Rain Crow who is a Union captain rather than a writer. We'll see how his life turns out.

I confess, I've pretty much felt like a failure lately and it can be debilitating. A cousin of mine once remarked "My mother was always very proud of the fact that she raised her girls right" insinuating, of course, that I was trash like my mother. I thought at the time, "Buttercup, be thankful you were raised right. You wouldn't have survived my raising."

I wondered at the time if my whole family looks down on me and then realized it didn't matter. We all have our own journey and for whatever reason, this is the path I was set on. It's up to me to make the best of it.

Dena My very best to you and your son. My father married a woman with two beautiful twin baby daughters. Unfortunately, they learned later they were mentally handicapped. It completely unhinged the woman, but she became a staunch advocate for the handicapped and reforms at the state mental hospital. She used to take me with her on the pilgrimages to the state hospital where she would do battle with the director about conditions and I, beginning at twelve, would wander around visiting with patients or sit quietly in the office. It was an experience.

One young man with hydrocephalus was in a crib. There were rows and rows of them lined up like tombstones at Arlington in a huge dimmed room. I heard a voice from behind me as I walked by, trailing behind Nita who was arguing with the director as they walked through the room. "Hello there," he said.

I turned back. "Hello."

I was shocked at his appearance, but visited with him for quite a while until Nita noticed I was missing and yelled at me. He thanked me for talking to him, saying it gets lonely just lying there day in and day out.

Another young man came into the office while I was sitting in the reception area waiting. He told me about his girl friend and showed me his little pocket radio. The secretary tried to shoo him out, but I told her he was fine. His radio needed batteries. He had a deck of cards he showed me that he was very proud of, so we went through the cards looking at each one and talking about them.

He came to the queens of hearts and gave it to me. I tried to decline, saying it would ruin his deck, but he insisted. The secretary told me to take it. It would mean a lot to him, so I did.

I asked Nita if we could leave some money for batteries, which she did. The same boy usually found me whenever we came to visit. He had a sort of radar.

So, when I get to feeling too sorry for myself, I think back to someone lying in a darkened room, starving for someone to talk to.

BJ Muntain said...

Janet, your dad's saying reminded me of my dad. He didn't say that, but he lived it. He was a very stubborn man - it's family quality and we're proud of it - and if he had a choice between doing something the right way or the popular way, he'd always choose the right way.

I'm sure we all have our regrets and failures. I do. Even my dad did. I probably look like a failure to most people right now, but as my dad would say - even after he lost the ability to communicate easily: "So?" It doesn't matter what other people think. The only thing that matters is doing what's right, and to keep doing it, no matter how hard it is. For me, that's writing and trying to get published.

Off Topic: I'm sorry. As Janice mentioned, I was at Surrey all weekend and just got home yesterday. I'm afraid I was lax reading this blog, and I'm just now catching up.

I just read Janice's note about me, and I'm blushing. You should know, Janice is also really nice - and she wears a witch's hat beautifully. I didn't recognize such a nice person in that costume!

Julie: I'm sorry I didn't see your message about how to find the Compuserve folks earlier, so I didn't ask Kathy. I was looking at nametags, wondering, "Is this person one of Julie's friends?" But I didn't know who to ask. I'll remember this for next year. I want to be adopted!

Brigid said...

On a note about success, our Donna's Dixie Dupree is on sale for $9 on Amazon.

Claire Bobrow said...

Thanks for this post, Janet.

I'm learning to embrace failure more with every passing year because it means I'm trying. The specter of embarrassment and humiliation is still there, but it doesn't bother me nearly as much anymore. Thank you, middle age! This is in inverse proportion to how my kids feel about me. The less embarrassed I am about what I do and say, the more embarrassed they are! Ah, the circle of life.

So many of you had inspiring words to say about failure. Thank you for lifting me up. I'm tucking your comments away in my inner psyche because I have a Skype critique later this evening with an editor - gulp. Hoping for some constructive criticism...

Anonymous said...

I just deleted a long comment about this (you're welcome) and will simply say that if you've been "lucky" enough to have someone in your life with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it's pretty easy to recognize the symptoms. And really tough to decide whether you feel more sorry for that person or for the people around them. The usual rules don't apply.

On the subject of "failure" and mistakes, I love what Neil Gaiman wrote for his 2012 New Year wish, and remind myself of it often:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Great post, Janet.

Anonymous said...

Here Here Janet!

I have just received a manuscript back from my editor and she ripped it apart... and it was glorious!

I am learning everyday. Renewed enthusiasm, renewed end goal and already my changes are working. Each time I "get it" more.

I also sing and AD and mistakes only teach us to grow. I am infuriated when people tell me they "can't" do something. I counter with "Rubbish, you just need to learn. Study, research and practice, fall and get back up."

Another terrific post!
thank you

Claire Bobrow said...

kdjames: I printed that one out. Great quote! Thank you!

Matt Adams said...

She's right, but it doesn't make it one smidge easier.

Kae Ridwyn said...

What a post - and comment trail! *blinks away tears*
Thank you, everyone. I needed this today.

RosannaM said...

So many snippets to squirrel away for future times when a word of encouragement is needed. Thanks to all who weighed in.

It is sometimes daunting to think that we may strive for something that is out of our reach. This reality of the sandbox we choose to play in should not deter us, though. Creating is in our control. Trying is in our control. Putting in the time and effort to get better is in our control.

Best of luck!

Pam Powell said...

"To risk and fail is better than not risking but not succeeding."

Hmm. Once I failed to risk and succeeded by failing. Years ago, my brothers and I almost bought a fourplex one block off the ocean. The price the owner asked was $3,000 over the appraisal so we said "No." It’s now worth hundreds of thousands more.

Thank heavens we didn’t buy it! I was at the time a total know-it-all. A successful investment at that time would have made me so fat-headed I wouldn’t have been able to get through any of the doors only humility opens.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

When you put a piece of paper out in a torrential rainstorm, most of the drops are not going to hit it.

Lennon Faris said...

Janet, have you ever thought about writing a book for writers? because I would so buy that. Thanks for this post.

Melanie Sue Bowles - yes it's non-fiction, but just so you know, your DOGS OF PROUD SPIRIT has made me laugh as well as cry in public. Your dad btw sounds just like mine, making you race the rain. I loved that more than I can describe! You prob. aren't reading comments anymore (heck prob. no one is) but I wanted to put that out there!

Megan V said...

JK Rowling gave a beautiful speech on failure at a Harvard Graduation.

"JK ROWLING On Failure"

Sometimes you have to be brave enough to dare to risk it all.

Amy Schaefer said...

It's all about defining the word "failure". True failure is when it's over - when you'll never take another step along the path. But if an experience moves you forward, or sideways, or even backwards, it isn't failure. It's just repositioning. Keep getting up. Keep on keeping on.

abnormalalien said...

I'm avoiding all political commentary for my own sanity; 'O Canada' starts playing as my mental background music if I think too much about it.

I think 'failure' at whatever we're trying is just an opportunity to teach someone else. Scars (physical or emotional) become stories and those stories can be used to show others an easier or better way.

John Davis Frain said...

I feel like I just ran a marathon. So exhausted, and yet, so exhilarated at the same time.

After reading Janet's fantastic post and then so many incredible comments, I've had a million thoughts running through my head.

But I can't even get my failures listed in the allotted 100 words. (First time I've loved that rule!) So I'll just say two things to Janet and all you sweet commenters:

1. Thank you!
2. Keep failing.
3. I love this place. (Darnit, I swear, I tried to stop at two. Seriously.)

MA Hudson said...

After all these encouraging comments I'm almost looking forward to failure!! (In the query trenches that is - I'm well acquainted with failure in other aspects of my life!!)

It'll be a while until my book's ready to query but when those rejections start amassing I'll know to soothe my battered ego with a quiet rereading this post.

Unknown said...

Learning to accept and even appreciate failure was incredibly difficult for me.

I'm trying to work on it with my kids while they're still young, particularly with my daughter who once felt incredibly distressed if she didn't achieve something perfectly on the first try. Now we talk about how things we did wrong helped us during our day, and working so hard to help her have a better view of failure has helped me in my own writing journey.

Rejections and failure still suck, but they're much easier to view in a "Well that didn't work, let's try this," kind of light.

Unknown said...

They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to develop mastery. In order to get those hours, you must be willing to accept failure... because you'll be doing a lot of it (speaking from experience). And I've realized there is no fast track to mastery. So write on.

Karen McCoy said...

Coming late to this post, but it offers beautiful inspiration on this cold and cloudy morning in South San Francisco. Love the Edison quote, the Gaiman quote, and the Rowling video. At my conference here, they also talked about how important it is to learn how to fail. And how to keep moving forward.