Friday, April 10, 2015

Failure IS an Option

Posted by: CobraMisfit
You are not a failure.

Let me repeat that: you are not a failure.

Yes, you try and many times you do not succeed. You wind up bloodied, embarrassed, and hurt. You have failed.

Good. It means you are taking risks. It means you are living your life rather than just letting time pass by. And the more risks you task, the greater your chance of failure.

There are few professions where it’s so easy to suffer in this manner than writing. We spend hours, months, even years crafting a story, perfecting it, polishing it. Then we take that first, terrifying step to query, be it to an agent or a publisher. More often than not, that story gets rejected. Over and over again until we think that maybe we shouldn’t write anymore. That perhaps our time and energies are better spent elsewhere. Because otherwise, why would we be failing?  

But it’s not just writing. Any task worth doing in life comes with inherent risk. We gamble on the things we love or want because they are worth it. We put our neck out for that promotion, we summon the courage to ask that breathtaking person for their phone number, we rehearse day after day for a performance. Then someone else is promoted, our future spouse says “no”, or we hit a flat note.

That does not mean that we are failures.

Failing is crucial in life. Failing is what makes us stronger, makes us harder. It teaches us tenacity and courage. Keeps us humble. It is not, however, a direct reflection of our character or our worth. Everyone fails, some of us more spectacularly and more frequently than others*. But anyone who measures you by the number of successes or failures rather than your ability to overcome them is not worth your time.

How we deal with failure, however, is the true mark of our character. Brow-beaten and pride wounded, how do we respond? Do we walk away, always looking back with remorse and regret? Or do we recognize that failure is part of the process, lick our wounds, and throw ourselves back into the fight?

Writing can be a long, painful journey at times. Those of us who chose this path are all too familiar with the rejections, the stumbles, and the falls along the way. We have sat in dark corners, crying into our beer, and wondering if we shouldn’t have taken up bowling instead.

But for those of us who wipe our eyes, finish our drink, and stand back up, those willing to continue on our journey, we may find calluses where our emotional skin was once rubbed raw. Calluses that will thicken over time so that when we inevitably fail again, it will sting, but perhaps not as bad.

And, maybe, just maybe, one day all our efforts will pay off. But we’ll never know if we don’t take that first step. More important, that we take another one after we’ve fallen.

In the end, failure is not something you are.  It's something you have or have had.  And consequently, something that you can be rid of.

So don’t be afraid of failure. Be afraid of never trying.

*Trust me, I know from personal experience.  


Joshua Roots is a car collector, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He's still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

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