“You see this jacket I’m wearing? You like it? Cause I don’t really need it, ’cause I’m cloaked in failure!” – Jerry Maquire
As writers, we will don our own failure cloaks from time to time. We will likely coordinate entire ensembles of failure, disappointment, and frustration. Luckily, these items are easily affordable, as we will also be broke.
The consensus is that writing doesn’t pay, and I think that is one of the reasons why rejection and goals not met are so infuriating. If we cannot be monetarily successful, we should at least be able to do our jobs well and be recognized for it.
I’ve not been rejected yet, (only because I’m not at the querying stage), but I will. Of that I am confident, and many writers I see on Twitter wear rejection as a badge of honor (I assume they iron it to their failure cloaks). My failure so far is of my own doing, setting writing goals that I continually fail to complete.
Last month was CampNaNoWrimo, and I was to finish my second draft of Father’s Creed by July 31. I tried. I really tried. Head down, fingers to the keyboard, I put in the hours, even participating in several write-ins. I accomplished quite a bit, but it wasn’t enough. Now we are knee deep in August and I’m still not done.
Nearing the end of July, I already knew I would not succeed, and I was disheartened. How can I get this book done if I can’t stick to a schedule? How can I be a writer if I don’t hit my goals on time? Meanwhile, a local writer is telling me how you’ve got to put out several books a year now to even have moderate success. I tried not to cry at her words, but I’m fairly certain I visibly wilted.
Then I spoke with another fellow local writer. I see him a couple times a month in our writing group and I’ve come to enjoy our time together. He asked me if I felt like participating in CampNaNo was a waste of time. This was my second time around, (the first time was for FC’s first draft where I actually met my goals), and he is always keen to seek new ways to improve as a writer.
When I opened my mouth, I thought I would spew my own sense of failure his direction, but I said, “No. I did not consider it a waste of time.”
I didn’t meet my goals, but I certainly pushed myself, and the writing I did moved me inches toward the finish line. The sense of urgency gave me focus. It helped drive me. It made me get out and meet other writers and prove that I can carve out writing time from any part of the day. It reiterated my wife’s support by letting me run off to write with strangers.
I failed, but my failure was not without success. As a writer, we must see that our stumbling blocks can be gathered and repurposed. With enough of them, we can build a castle. We must wear our rejection badges on our cloaks, cloaks that will keep us dry when the heavy rains fall, and rains will come. And, from a far enough distance, those many badges we wear are a catalog of success, milestones for a life fulfilled, effort rewarded, and commitment recognized.
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