I’m Prepared to Fail

photo from Flickr via Creative Commons from BasicGov


Sometimes I think about giving up.

It’s usually one of those days where, for whatever reason, I’ve encountered some form of rejection (or perceived rejection) in regards to my writing.

But not always. It’s just as easy to think my book is awesome, that I’ve got something, then troll through the interwebs and see other people getting published, or—what trips me up even faster—I realize that it is going to be incredibly difficult.

Nothing about this path is easy. Writing well takes time to learn the craft and it takes a LOT of failing. Editing takes FOREVER and also requires much failure and learning. There is sooo much to perfect and such a steep curve to becoming good that sometimes it seems more like an unclimbable mountain than an achievable goal.

There are Facebook groups, Twitter feeds, and contests full of hopeful writer all shooting for the same star—to land an agent or sell a book. This week, I submitted to Pitch Wars, the contest run by Brenda Drake in which something like 1200 writers submitted to 75 mentors, hoping that one of the four they’ve submitted to will choose them to mentor. It’s a fabulous contest with a high success rate for landing agents. But once you hit submit, it’s a waiting game for two weeks. You watch your chosen mentors tweet about the submissions they’ve rejected, or the requests for partials and fulls they’ve made, and you very quickly feel like you don’t measure up as you hit refresh for the billionth time and stare at an empty inbox.

And I know. I KNOW that it doesn’t mean anything in the end. This business is so subjective. For those who don’t get chosen, all it could mean is that the mentor loved another submission just a teeny bit more. Or! That the mentor felt the submission was too good and they couldn’t help. Several actually said that! And as much as I try to comfort myself with the idea that this best-case-scenario applies to my submission and empty inbox, there is also the sinking feeling that my book just isn’t good enough.




I have my Pick Me Up File for days like this. But the other day, I was too tired and had other things bringing me down and even the Pick Me Up File didn’t work. This was a first. Let me tell you. This was a BAD day in my head.

I am a planner in every respect. I usually pick my outfit out the night before, after checking my WeatherBug app, I make lists for everything I can think to make a list of, and I have an entire process for prewriting. But because I like to be prepared, I also plan for the worst-case scenario. It reminds me of the scene from Twilight where Bella asks herself, “Okay, what’s the worst I can live through?”

As morbid as it sounds, I have a plan for nearly every worst-case scenario I can imagine happening to me. And this does comfort me because I think, okay. I can live with that. It would suck, but I could survive.

So, the other day, I thought, okay. Worst-case scenario in my writing life is that I never get an agent, never sell a book, or even worse, get an agent and contract and all my books flop horribly. I might even self-publish and not sell a thing. So basically, worst-case scenario is complete and utter failure. So, I thought well, if that happens, what would I do?




It took a while to come up with the answer. But finally, when I thought, would I choose a different career path or stay at my current job? Would I find something else to fill my hours and my heart? Would I put all my stories in a drawer and leave them forever?


Even if the worst-case scenario happens, what’s my solution? What’s the grand plan? Keep writing. Because it doesn’t matter if I “make it” or if I deem myself a failure. The simple joy of a new idea buzzing around my head, the feeling of my heart racing as I type out my imagination, the rush that comes when I figure out the next plot twist… that’s why I do this.

Yeah, obviously I want to make living at it. Who doesn’t want their dreams to be profitable? But writing is the thing I live for, the thing that I can’t be myself without.

I am a writer. There is no backup plan.

4 thoughts on “I’m Prepared to Fail

  1. Thanks for the encouraging words! I’m a planner, too (glad I’m not the only one who thinks about the worst-case senario!). Your words gave me some much needed perspective. After a particularly tough rejection – combined with my inbox also being devoid of Pitch Wars requests – I’ve been struggling with a lot of doubt and insecurity. Writing queries gets even harder when you’re second guessing yourself and everything you’ve written. But it’s so important in this writing life to keep moving forward. These are just the words I needed today.
    Good luck with Pitch Wars!

    1. So glad to hear it helped you! Queries are hard no matter what, but yeah, when that doubt sets in, it’ll make you give up quicker than you can drink your first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season :) I rely heavily on my writer friends who get what I’m going through. Hang in there! You’ll get there eventually!

  2. Keep fighting the good fight! I hear you though, I quit writing for 2-3 years because I let the fear of my writing going to waste get to me. I regret those years so very much…a day spent writing is never a day wasted even if the writing never sees anyone’s eyes. At the end of the day you have to do it for you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.