Friday, February 28, 2014

Fail, Fail Again

By Matt Sinclair

I’m happy to say I’m getting used to failure. Mind you, I don’t like it all that much, but it beats the alternative. No, not success, that’s not what I mean. The alternative is not trying at all.

Frankly, I believe failure and success are close kin. I don’t think you can one without the other as they each help develop one’s perspective. And failure done right can and should lead to success.

Why “should”? Because sometimes failure leads to not trying again. Heck, success probably can lead that way, too.

In the years when I frequently attended trade conferences as a reporter, I learned that the lessons from failure tend to be closely guarded secrets. One simple reason stands out: let your competitors make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.

To some extent that makes sense. As a father, I’ve seen firsthand that a child learns better when they overcome an obstacle that previously seemed insurmountable. But we also like to share here at FTWA.

What example to share of my own failings? Well, Over the past several months I’ve failed to trust my instincts on a couple matters related to my writing and publishing. I knew something was not right, but I decided a work was “good enough.” The response I got eventually showed me that I was wrong in that assessment. Seeing months of rejection of a work that I once thought “good enough” can keep even the strongest character from moving forward.

The goal, however, is to learn from the failure. Then adapt.

How about you, any lessons from failure you’re willing to share here? Or do you prefer to keep them close to the vest?  

Matt Sinclair, a New York City-based journalist and fiction writer, is also president and chief elephant officer of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, which is hours away from publishing Winter’s Regret: What Might Have Been, the final edition of its Seasons Series of anthologies. The other titles in the series, all available through Amazon and Smashwords, are: Spring Fevers, Summer's Edge and Summer's Double Edge, and The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse. Matt blogs at the Elephant's Bookshelf and is on Twitter @elephantguy68.


Debra McKellan said...

Always go with your gut. I'm good at second-guessing it or ignoring it, too.

Matt Sinclair said...

Usually good advice. Thanks for your comment.

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

I'm all about sharing about failure. Maybe not right away, because sometimes we just need to lick our wounds a bit before we're ready to expose ourselves a little more.

I remember blogging about my first query rejection. I remember blogging about my next several and then I remember blogging about how I decided I had to shelve that manuscript.

I think it's extremely important for others to see that failure doesn't only happen to them, and it's also important to see that the success is continuing and, as you say - that we still try.

Zambullida said...

I do not think sucess lead you to not trying again.

Failure always means learning.

Brenda Carre said...

thanks for this post, Matt. I too believe failure is the key ingredient to success because it keeps you kicking. If everything was just too easy where would the energy come from. I have recently spent a lot of time with very successful writers and editors and there is not a one of them who hasn't learned a ton of stuff from failure and the energy it takes to pick oneself up and go right back into the fray. Cheers to you and the whole crew here who are communicating the nuts and bolts of what it takes to succeed.