Monday, January 02, 2012
When We Fail
I had a rather unsettling issue with a Christmas gift this year. I busted my butt finding the right item, spending more than I expected, in order to please someone who is very hard to please. I went into Christmas nervous about it. The gift went okay, but the credit for it went to someone else.
I blamed the person receiving the gift. Then I blamed myself, thinking I can't get things right. Then I hated the whole holiday for putting me in the position of having to deal with such an issue.
When we're rejected, we have to react. Nobody shrugs and moves on easily, especially when the submission felt so right. Rejection hurts. Then your reaction naturally is directed first at the person who did not accept your work. Then, realizing there's nothing you can do about that, you turn that hurt inward, frustrated that you took too little time on the query, or overestimated your ability to write. Then when that frustration results in little positive results, you feel like a lesser person, and you get mad at the publishing industry.
I've seen these reactions on blogs, in chats, and across forums everywhere. It's almost stereotypical in nature. That hurt has to go somewhere.
What we can do is don armor, reminding ourselves it's part of writing, and ultimately part of life. We can't win all the time. We can't win half the time. We can't win regularly, or even predictably. Sometimes we don't win for a long, long time.
That's when we strive to lose graciously. We must distance ourselves from that inevitable disappointment just enough not to fall apart, but leave it close enough to learn from it.
It's not easy. We don't learn how to maintain our balance without failing . . . failing a lot. We're failed in 2011. We'll fail in 2012. But the difference can be a simple matter of attitude, in how we juggle the experience, in hopes that one day we stand on our feet, scarred but wiser, and winning a little more.
Happy New Year, friends.