Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Writing has taught me how to fail

I read a post the other day on agent Jenny Bent's blog that spoke to me and, (forgive the psychobabble),  led to a lightbulb moment of self-realization.

Writing has taught me how to fail.

That sounds negative. But really, I don't mean it that way. Honest.

Jenny's post was at least partially about bravery and how much she admires writers who eagerly pitch to her at conferences, when chances are they are going to fail. (Not necessarily fail at the pitch, but fail at getting her to offer representation, or fail at landing a good publishing contract for the book.)

My moment of insight was that before I started writing seriously, (and the seriously part is important), I was not good at failing. I think this is because, frankly, I hadn't had all that much practice. Sure, I'd had tons of disappointments in sports and school and work and love, but basically I was used to success.  As a result, my one or two major failures before writing (BW) were, in a word, devastating. I sucked at dealing with failure.

In my BW years, the five stages of grief in reaction to a setback, took forever to go through. In fact, I think I still might be working through my grief for a couple of big BW failures from more than a decade ago...

But the good news is that after learning how to accept negative critiques (my CPs might claim I'm still on the upside of that learning curve), learning how to accept rejections, learning how to recognize that a book on which I've spent a year (or more) of my life isn't working, or just isn't good enough to stand out, or maybe simply just had bad luck... After all the things it takes to become a writer, I am learning to fail. Yay me!!!

I'm not claiming that I'm great at failing yet, but I am learning and getting better with each failure. :)

Seriously. I feel really good about this. Personal growth that doesn't involve needing new clothes. ;)

In other news... I'm part of a new blog for readers and anyone who loves a good story that launches today. I'll be blogging there about once a week.  Get Lost in a Story


Eileen said...

It's true. This business is all about rejection. I think actors have the same situation. You're going to get piles and piles of "nos" for every single "yes" you receive and it can be really hard.

I have gotten better at shaking it off, but if anyone ever wonders why authors are so freaking neurotic, this might be one reason you can point to.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Maureen! And I so know what you mean. Will check out your new blog.

Sinead M said...

Neurotic, but also better able to deal with critcism. I swear its made me better at my day job.

Maureen McGowan said...

That's what I'm thinking/hoping too, Sinead. That it's actually made it easier for me to take criticism and accept failures in all areas of my life...

Alli Sinclair said...

I love this post, Maureen! Everything you said rings bells with me, too. I think coping with failure (or at least trying to deal with it) toughens us up because if we let it get to us we'd never survive in this industry.

BW I had a great admiration for actors and how much rejection they had to suffer to get to their dream. And now I have the same admiration for writers who continually slog away, honing their skills, studying the industry, and writing many, many, many books that may never see the light of day.

When I pick up books these days I often wonder what this writer went through to get to the point of getting their book/s published. It truly is amazing.

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