5min- Failure

How do you judge failure?

I’ve tried so many things in my life. I went to college, but I have no degree. I started painting pictures that are half finished. I have book upon book that is only a fragment of a finished novel or short story.

But is it failure?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed, and Gregg has to give me a pep talk and remind me of how far I’ve come, and how much I have accomplished.

You see, there was a time when I did give up. I stopped writing, stopped painting, stopped doing almost anything creative because just existing took so much effort that I couldn’t do much of anything else. That’s the lie of depression. That’s the trap of living in an abusive relationship. You feel so worthless, and useless, that just getting out of bed and putting on clothes is difficult.

And here I am, years later, with finished books and a shelf with my name all over it…. And still I feel like a failure. That thing causing my depression may be gone, but the depression isn’t. It’s a life long companion.

What is failure? Failure is giving into that depression and letting it lie to me. But even if I fail for a day there is still tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, to try again. To get it right.

And that’s my five.


Almost done, and scared

I’m close to finishing book three in my Witch’s Trilogy. This has taken me almost a year and a half to complete. What started as a simple 80,000 word stand alone novel has become a 230,000 word trilogy, something I never thought I could write. I mean the first novel I wrote (which was terrible) took five years. This took 18 months for all three! That’s crazy.

And yet as I get closer to the end I find myself getting scared. Scared to finish. Scared to succeed. But mostly terrified that it will fail. It makes it difficult to write sometimes, but I do it anyway. A few words here, a few sentences there, trying to get to the end even though a big part of me is afraid of doing so. And I know it’s stupid to be afraid.

For the last couple of years I’ve made some great friends, watched them write novels and make a small (or sometimes big) following for themselves. And they’ve done well. I’m happy for them, and I’ve tried to learn from their examples but it all seems to come back to “write more good books. Eventually something will get through.”

Oh, they do other things like ads on facebook and book bub, but mostly they just write good books and keep putting them out there. No wonder they have lots of readers.

So I’ve been telling myself that with the third book I can finally have a trilogy out, three complete novels, and I might be able to do a bit of advertising. But as the time gets closer I realize that… it doesn’t work like that. Oh sure, I could do some advertising (and I will) but really, in the end it might not even matter. Sometimes getting people to pay attention to what you made is just a matter of the right time at the right place.

So I’m afraid that I’ll put up the third book and I won’t sell a single copy. I shouldn’t be afraid of that, not if I really just want to write. But there it is. That gnawing fear.

Here’s the truth: whether I sell a thousand books, or one, or even zero…I’m going to keep writing. I love telling stories, and building worlds. I love seeing what happens to my characters. So I know I shouldn’t care if this book sells anything since I’m going to keep doing it anyway.

But I also know it’s nice to have some validation that what I say matters to someone. And I don’t know where to get that validation. I suppose I should figure that out soon, because it probably won’t come from sales any time soon.

After this last book in the trilogy I’m going to go back to making my own covers, and probably shorter works because editing can get expensive, but I will continue to write. And I won’t feel the pressure to finish them like I do with this one because I won’t have invested so much money into them… just time, and me. I think I’d rather invest myself in my books then money anyway.

Anyway, time to get back to the writing. Fear or not, I want to finish it. Even if no one ever reads it I need to say that I finished it.

Failure IS an Option

I’m a huge fan of the Mythbusters. Science. Explosions. Mechanical stuff. Interesting ways of looking at a problem. How could I not be a fan?

One of the things they often say is: Failure is an option! And failure is an option for me, too.

We live in a world that is constantly striving for success. To get a job you have to be a go getter, extrovert, hard worker that is constantly kissing your bosses ass. Right? That’s how you get ahead. You don’t show your faults, or insecurities. You don’t cry when the boss doesn’t like your ideas. You don’t sweat it, just hold your chin high and keep going.

Then you have the Mythbusters who are constantly messing up. Adam burns his eyebrow off. Tory crashes a bicycle. Kari throws up. But they keep chugging along trying to test the myths and see what makes the world tick. They fail CONSTANTLY, but they learn in their failures and try again.

With me and my writing… failure is an option. Some days I completely fail and don’t get any writing done. Other days I feel guilty for slacking and I’ll go write a thousand words off the cuff. From each failure I learn something about myself, and how I work. I learn how long I can sit at the computer, and how much I can write before my brain starts ticking away at other things. I know what I can listen to, and what I can’t before I can’t concentrate on anything except the words in my headphones.

Failure is an option, because failure is a learning opportunity. Failure is a starting point. It can spawn new ideas and lead you down new paths.

But failure is frustrating too. I keep missing deadlines I give myself, and I keep pressing forward. Eventually I’m going to finish writing this book and have something to show for nearly a year of work, but till then I keep failing, and trying to find the bright spots in it. Like discovering how the curse was broken, or understanding the motive behind a character, or working out the language on a tricky section of text.

Now… back to writing. (It’s at 89.4k words atm.)