Training for Failure

My voice does not carry far throughout the sprawling fields of the Internet. It is a small one; a tiny ripple in a vast ocean; an insignificant pebble in a valley surrounded by mountains. As a result, every time I Tweet or blog something, I don’t exactly receive overwhelming amounts of likes, follows, accolades, etc.

Logically, I know that this is because I have not waded around in these platforms long enough to make a splash. It is also because I am still new to blogging and learning to develop my mess of thoughts into something organized and cohesive that I can then communicate to whoever decides to click and read. I am at a point in my author platform development where posting something is essentially just me (as far as I know) writing to myself.

Emotionally, it is a slightly different story. When one of my posts receives little to no attention a little shit droplet of a firecracker goes off in my brain and I feel just a little disappointed. I’ve noticed that it can be enough to ruin my mood for a whole afternoon (on particularly shitty days). And I’ve had to comes to terms with that reality. It took time, but slowly I have learned how to deal with it–to be self-aware. When those emotions come, I try not to ignore them. I assess how they are making me feel. And then I return to my logical side. I use the experience as a training ground for future rejection.

Because the truth is, rejection will come.

And it will bring friends.

And those friends’ shitty cousins.

So, if I’m not ready for the rejection that accompanies an unread blog post or Tweet, there’s no way I’ll be able to handle the rejection (with its friends and shitty cousins) of a novel I poured years of blood, sweat and tears into. Those are shitty cousins I don’t want at my pity party.

Because the cold, hard truth is that, once I start querying my novel, I will get rejected. And I need to be able to handle that rejection when the time comes. I will allow myself a small amount of time to be disappointed and to process my feelings, but then it will be time to take the next step. I will need to logically assess the situation once it happens so that I can determine whether the best course of action is to keep querying or whether I need to return to my novel and make revisions.

So at this point, I can use my feelings of rejection as they pertain to Twitter and blogging in order to prepare myself for the bigger rejections. So far, I feel like I have gotten better at processing those things. I am learning more about what works and what doesn’t on these platforms (that’s what analytics are for). It’s a slow process as I consider myself a slow learner, but I’ll get it eventually as long as I don’t give up. I’ve had to reframe my outlook on this whole journey as a writer.

If you struggle against self-doubt (which you likely do at times if you are, in fact, a human being), then here are some thoughts I have on the matter.

It’s easy to get discouraged and think about giving up. But you’ve basically got two choices. You can either:

1) Keep going with the hope of achieving your dreams in a year, two years, ten years or longer

Or

2) Give up and NEVER achieve them.

If your argument is, “Well, what if I spend my whole life trying to achieve that goal and never get it? It would all be a waste of time. That would be CRUSHING!” And you’re right.

Hope is not a guarantee. Far from it.

But the cool thing is that it’s not about the destination. The journey is a realm of learning. Even if you never achieve your goals, you will have a greater understanding of yourself. Even if you fail, you will still be wiser than when you started. Even if the only lesson you learned was “I’m never doing that again,” you will have learned something.

“Failure, the greatest teacher is.” That’s a quote by my little buddy, Yoda.

If you fail, then that’s great! You have learned something!

So, whatever your goal is, keep at it if it’s something you really want. Whether or not you achieve it is not the point. Whatever that goal is, if it’s being a rock star, the president or just being a good parent, keep at it. If that goal is writing, the only thing I can say is to keep writing. For me, that’s all I can do. I figure at some point, if I keep going, that perhaps my writing will be at a place where it is publishable. And even if it never is, at least I can say that I learned something.

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