Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Time to Fail

It's that time of year again, baseball season.  My oldest son has graduated from batting off a "T" to hitting a pitched ball.  Taking this next step forward raises the stakes tremendously.  No longer is he very nearly guaranteed a hit each time he steps up to the plate.  This year, strike outs abound for my son and his teammates.  Now, I'm not saying that his team lacks talent.  My son and the rest of the players on his team show as much potential in varying degrees as any other team in this age group.  And yet, the fact remains that striking out has taken some of the fun out of the game. 

"You haven't struck out everytime," I told him on the way to a game when he wasn't feeling up to the challenge.  "You got a hit in last week's game.  You're still learning.  It takes time and practice to improve.  Each time you get up to the plate is a fresh new chance.  Forget about the last at bat.  In fact, if you swing and miss once, you still have two more tries.  The more times you try, the more you learn what works and doesn't work, the better you'll get.  And, at the end of the season, I'm just proud you got out there and tried you're best each time."    His response:  "Can I get candy from the snack stand?"

Oh, how I seemed to know it all, so wise, so positive from the driver's seat of my mini van.  Where was all that wisdom and positive thinking the next day when I checked my less than stellar sales report on the Kindle Direct Publishing site?  "I feel defeated.  What's the use?  I don't have the time to promote my work properly. I'm just wasting my time trying to be an author.  What was I thinking?  Blah, blah, blah."  I shut down my computer and left to go fold laundry (something I do with great success several times a week).  In the jumble of clothes, I came across my son's uniform and remembered my inspired little pep talk.

I subscribe to regular e-newletters from Writer's Digest.  One of their featured bloggers is Jane Friedman.  Her posts are always very informative and thought provoking about the world of publishing.  In a recent post, she spoke of success.  In her opinion, success depends less on talent and more on determination.  Ms. Friedman explained how she allows for a "time to fail".  In essence, failure is inevitable when trying anything new.  Failure leads to learning.  Conversely, learning from failure and being determined to try again in the face of multiple failures leads to success. http://janefriedman.com/2011/02/15/boring-elements-of-success/

If that's not inspiring enough, check out this list I found of 50 Famously Successful People who Falied at First.  Here's the link:    http://www.onlinecollege.org/2010/02/16/50-famously-successful-people-who-failed-at-first/



  1. "Ultimately, life is about failing better. Every day you wake up, you get another chance to get it right, to come up from failure, to fail up."
    - Tavis Smiley. :)

  2. It's all relative, success and failure. I read your post and I think of you as someone who successfully completed a book and put it out there. But you tell yourself you're failing at marketing your book. One person, different assessments.

    I once asked my Creative Writing professor: Do you consider yourself a successful novelist or a failed poet? She had so wanted to be a poet! But she was successful at being a novelist.

    I failed as a cog-in-the-wheel speechwriter after 10 years. I'm thriving as a blogger. I am a failure to my former employer. I am my own hero for reinventing.

  3. Scrollwork, thanks for your thoughts. I do find it helpful to think of writing and marketing as two completely different categories, much like writing poetry is different from novels. Success or failure in one isn't a blanket statement for all.
    Also, I enjoyed checking out your blog, both entertaining and amusing.

  4. I like that: perseverence. I've got that. So we can expect to see me published -- eventually.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Loved this post.


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