Warning! Warning! Personal Post Ahead! There will be failing! (And possibly flailing.) Eeek, get it off! Get it off!
Just kidding. Well, not really. But this is actually a post about failing, and having a bit of a rubbish year, and there are less dragons involved than you may have come to expect. Although I’ve added cat gifs to soften the blow.
Still here? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Here’s the thing.
May was a no-good, terrible, horrible month. Lots of things happened, with people I love getting sick and being taken into hospital, and relationship issues, and work issues, and all sorts of stuff. The kind of stuff that makes you just want to cancel the month immediately and request a refund, although probably not a do-over, because you don’t want to risk what might happen if you go through it again.
In fact, the whole first five months of 2018 were actually not particularly fantastic.
I know I wasn’t the only one – not this month, not this year, not ever. Life likes to stick its fingers in the pie and mix things up now and then, and it’s not exactly gentle about it. Stuff happens. As it did.
And a lot of what it did involved failure.
So let’s talk about failure.
I think there’s a tendency to shy away from that word. “You didn’t fail. You just didn’t succeed quite the way you wanted to.”
Um, yes. So what I was doing failed, right?
“Yes, but you didn’t fail.”
Which, you know, that’s nice. No one wants to be called a failure. It’s not a nice term. It has the stale taste of wasted time and broken biscuits.
But sometimes we do fail.
And I’ve failed a lot this year.
Which, oddly, I’m okay with. Because each failure put me closer to what I actually wanted to do, or so it feels. It’s like being a mouse in a lab, looking for the cheese and trying a bunch of dead ends before she finds the right one. Even if it does feel like I have a really bad sense of smell and a very grazed nose from bumping into walls at this point, and I’m kind of surprised I haven’t knocked myself out, considering the speed I was going when I hit some of those dead ends.
Some of these were small failures – like my 100 days of sketches, which petered out at around the 60 mark. That’s okay. I want to start them again, and I will at some point. They were fun. But life sort of swallowed everything fun there for a bit.
I was going to be more productive, but we all know how that goes.
I was going to go out more, but ahahahaha. I’m an introvert. I know that. I need more time at home, not less.
I was going to get really ahead on my blog posts and social media and be a super-organised amazingly together type person, but I don’t know if that’s actually even in my nature.
I was going to read some actual educational books and learn stuff, but, well, life.
And then there were bigger things.
I set up an online personal training and yoga website, which took a huge amount of time and effort, and which I still think is a good idea. But two months in I realised that I’d never have time to write anything for me as long as I was producing content for that site, and that my headspace was completely taken up with it. Not only that, I was already dreading having to come up with ideas for it on a regular basis.
It came to a choice between burpees and dragons. The dragons won. The dragons always win.
And then the biggest failure – the BBN (Big Bad Novel) manuscript was out on a rewrite and resubmit with an agent that I was so excited about. Unfortunately, when it came to it, it turned out that the rewrite didn’t work. That one hurt. I mean, I knew the odds. Even just getting a request to resubmit after so few submissions was amazing. I was prepared for it not to go further, and the agent was wonderfully encouraging about everything, but still. I kind of feel like I really fell over on that one.
There were other things, too, that felt major at the time but that maybe aren’t so much in retrospect. But sometimes heaping failure on failure means that even though they’re small, they just build and build until you find yourself lying on the kitchen floor next to the cat at 11am, staring at the ceiling and wondering if there’s anything you’ve got right this month. This year. This life.
And then the cat walks away in disgust, and you spot the missing peas under the fridge from that bag you dropped last week, and now you can’t even clean right, and the cat hates you.
You know, talking hypothetically.
But, failure. It’s part of it, isn’t it? Part of life, and particularly part of the creative life. I don’t think we get the option to avoid it. And, kind of like how saying ‘no’ opens new opportunities, failing can provide us with other options, too.
Having to admit that I couldn’t run a fitness website and write made me choose, and choosing means that (maybe for the first time) I really found out how important writing is to me. I discovered that it matters more to me than expanding the other side of what I do, even if that is the (sometimes) paying side. And it told me that, because I’m lucky enough to have the option of working my life around writing, I need to do that, rather than the other way around.
Failing in my BBN submission (although I do have the option for another rewrite, which I’m still considering), didn’t convince me that my writing sucked, luckily. It could have, considering the way the rest of the year was going, and I’m actually kind of astonished it didn’t. I think that one’s down to super-supportive beta readers and writer friends – if you don’t have them, find them. They matter.
But anyhow – what that failure did tell me was that my story as it is wasn’t right for that agent, or maybe even that market. And it made me rethink. It made me realise that I don’t exactly write what the market wants, which is unfortunate. And while I’m happy to learn, and willing to change my stories to fit, I don’t want to do that with Beaufort. I want to write him as he is, and while I’m going to continue to chase traditional publication for the BBN, I’m not going to do that with him. Not Beaufort, not now. So failing pointed me in a new direction.
All of which is a long way around to saying: stuff sucked. It’s currently a little less sucky. Failure happened. It’ll happen again. It always happens. It’s life.
But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
How about you, lovely people? How has your year been so far? What have your wins and non-wins been? Let me know below!