I love this concept of failing forward. Failure gets a bum rap. It isn’t nearly as destructive as we think.
When you learned to walk, you fell down. In fact, I don’t think you would ever learn to walk if you didn’t. When I first learned to ride a two-wheeler, I had to have my Dad start me, and I would stop by crashing into someone’s lawn. Just like flying an airplane, take off and landing is the most dangerous. Riding was the fun part, and probably the easy part, except when a car came along or someone’s little brother decided to chase a ball directly in front of your trajectory. Then a quick decision was made, and it usually resulted in skinned knees and palms.
I learned to ski when I was 40. I figured if I didn’t learn before I was too old to fall down, I would never do it. I took a week-long course in the Canadian Rockies, and after 5 days of lots of falling down, I learned how to ski. I could even ski the medium runs. I even fell on my ski instructor, who had barely missed an Olympic qualifier. But his great skill and speed didn’t help him when it came to getting off the chairlift with me the first time. I sat on his knee, and he broke both bones in his lower leg. Oops.
I didn’t decide not to ski, not to learn to ride a bike or to walk. I haven’t even decided to behave myself all the time, and I’m always getting lessons about my mouth and my opinions, and sometimes I even listen.
Because I’m still out there, slugging away, writing and writing and getting rejected, writing and writing and writing and having someone like my work, and writing and writing and writing, and…well, you know the rest.
Or, like Babe Ruth is reported to have said, “You don’t get 100% of the hits you don’t take.” If there ever was a chance to make it as an author, and I don’t mean writing for my own enjoyment but making some serious money, it is now. We have so many options out there. There are millions of discouraged writers who will throw in the towel just when they shouldn’t. And we’ll still be there.
I got an appointment with an editor I wanted to meet because I was sitting in a chair waiting for someone to not show up. And that’s what happened. The other author didn’t show up, so I got her spot, and got to pitch to my dream editor. That was a very solid at bat. And, although it didn’t give me a home run, I created a base hit out of it by writing a story she didn’t like, but someone else did.
If I hadn’t sat there, having “failed” at getting an appointment with this editor previously, I wouldn’t have gotten the base hit. It would have been fun to hang out in the bar with my friends. But my friends won’t be giving me a contract.
No, I may not be the best writer I will be some day, and I certainly am not the most successful yet, but I’m going to outlast everyone.
That means I better be immortal.
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