Is there such a thing as certain failure?

by Rebecca A. Watson on May 17, 2012

in goals, writing

When I was young I seemed to be naturally good at everything I did. My grades were good. I held first chair in band. I played the piano beautifully. I got the lead in our high school musical.

foosball champs

I was even part of a champion Foosball team.

But my dirty little secret was this: I didn’t do things I wasn’t immediately good at.

Over the years I’ve turned my nose up at myriad opportunities to try new things because I just didn’t seem to be very good at them: improv, writing music, jogging, weight lifting, sculpture … god the list seems endless.

The reason is obvious: Fear of failure. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve been developing my failure callous lately because I’m walking directly into rejection territory: I’m approaching publishers and agents for my book.

Now I’m an optimist on almost every day of the week, but I’m forcing myself to be a realist here. Books are rejected all the time. Henry Miller’s work was rejected. So was Kurt Vonnegut’s. Sylvia Plath’s. And Rudyard Kipling’s. Hunter mutha-effin’ Thompson!?!

I just know I’m going to get some of those letters. I think this is the first time in my life I’ve walked into certain “failure.” It’s sorta unnerving; I just keep forcing myself to do a little more each day. I’m spinning in a completely unfamiliar orbit, the fool on the hero’s journey.

Is there such a thing as certain failure? Is it considered failure if you later succeed? Or if you walk into it knowingly? I don’t know. I guess I don’t like using the word because it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But as my good friend Nicole says: Failure is a filter. It separates the brave ones from the rest.

I’m also hoping for some good news in there too. Because, while I may not be good at publishing a book, I am a pretty decent writer. And plus, I’m still an optimist.

If you wouldn’t mind, please send out some positive light and thoughts my way to make this thing happen! And if you know any editors or agents in the publishing industry, I wouldn’t mind hearing about that either 😉

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jande May 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

You did Great! You wrote a whole novel, you even edited it. And now you’re sending it out into the cold cruel world! There is no such thing as failure as long as you keep going. Keep sending out the novel. And if you find after a year or so that it still isn’t getting anywhere, try self-publishing. I have great faith in you, Becca! Even when things don’t come easy, you’ll do what’s needed. <3


Ryan May 18, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I was just coming to send you the same message as Jande.

Publishers don’t have the money anymore to take chances and promote uncertainty.

Self publish.
This way all of that hard work and time will be directed back into yourself. No matter what, you’ll learn a ton and who’s going to work harder than you, to get your work out there?

Either way, Good Luck!


Ms. Becca May 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Thanks to both of you! That seems to be the consensus from everyone I talk to. I guess I’ll have to look into that more.


Nicole May 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Rebecca, you are way too amazing of a person to ever worry or doubt yourself! You’re brilliant, you’re ambitious, you’re way ahead of the curve. Like everyone else has done, I too will remind you that you wrote a book! That in itself is something most people will never do.

Those who don’t give up and don’t back down to failure really can’t become failures. It’s the practice of looking it in the eyes, and not backing down, that makes a person a success. Keep following your dreams!


Ms. Becca May 19, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Nicole, you’re amazing 🙂 Thanks for all the great encouragement! I’m following my dreams…you know, it’s just how I roll 😉


Judy Schafer May 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

No – failure is not certain. You never know what will suceed until you try, and try again. Look at Gramps and I….59 years of trying to figure each other out – and we still don’t have it down pat.


Ms. Becca May 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Yay! 59 years is so impressive 🙂 That’s a model for trying and trying again.


Andrew Blackman June 6, 2012 at 10:56 am

I read something good recently – something like “People don’t fail. Strategies and tactics fail, and when they do, you change to different strategies.” It was probably better in the original 😉 The point is, expect plenty of failures along the way, and expect it to hurt quite a lot each time, but try not to see each one as a necessary step on the road to success. Easier said than done, but I thought it was good advice so wanted to pass it along. Have a great day, and good luck!


Ms. Becca June 7, 2012 at 8:02 am

That is awesome. And I like it because it feels less personal: my strategy failed. Time to try something new. Not as harsh as “I failed.” Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it 🙂


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: