This is a story with a twist you’ll never expect. Or it’s one without the conventional happy ending. In fact it’s not the end at all. It’s the beginning and the middle and the end, all at once. It’s about how I’m teaching myself to cope with “failure” or rejection, and maybe this article will help you also.
I want to say here that it is a privilege and an honour to go on submission. That I am grateful to all the hardworking people who have read/given feedback on my novel in the last 18months, especially editorial teams and my agency. The last 18months are the most extreme and odd I have faced in my lifetime. I expect they are for most of us. To continue to work, to look at art and how to bring it to people, is such an amazing thing. I am grateful. Always.
Here is how I am choosing to look at things, after a few days of reflection and discussions off/online. Maybe it’ll help you, maybe it won’t. I hope it does.
In my professional life, we talk a lot about having a growth mindset and how to redefine or own the narratives we tell ourselves and others. I know, I know. I pulled that face too. But bear with me.
Having a growth mindset, means learning all the time – when things go right and when they go wrong. Nothing is a failure, nothing is a mistake, they are all learning opportunities, reflecting and looking forward. Here is what I have learned:
- You cannot control who else is submitting and what they are submitting.
- You cannot control an unpredictable market or audience.
- You cannot control the political, social and economic environment
All of this impacts whether or not your book ends up on a shelf somewhere but none of this means we shouldn’t create and write and try anyway.
Instead, it’s about thinking about my own narrative about success and writing. Here’s what I am telling myself:
- Not to define success solely by the ability to tell people they can buy my book somewhere. This is mismanaging my own expectations massively and doing myself a disservice.
- Enjoy the journey: Role-modelling for my kids is so important. That it’s good to have hopes and dreams but it’s also important to enjoy the journey because you can only control some of that.
And finally, the biggest part, and the most important is, how do you carry on when things aren’t going to plan. Here’s what I have decided, here is what I can control, what I am choosing to control:
- How well I write. The quality of my writing. How much I push myself harder, to get the words on the page as close as possible to the image in my head. I can learn and read and study and get feedback as much or as little as I like. But to know I’ve given it my all, is a comfort and a success in and of itself.
- That perfection is not a goal. Perfect doesn’t exist. Quality work operates in a continuum. How well I write now is based on how much I’ve learned. How well I write in 5 years will change again.To take pleasure in the preciseness of the written word at the time I create it.
- To enjoy writing what I love. With the themes that are important to me. Expressing myself in the best and only way, sometimes, that I know how to. I have a voice, I will use it. No one else can write the way I can. Whether it’s good or bad is irrelevant. It just is and it won’t exist unless I write it
Maybe I will get published, maybe in a month or a year or ten years from now, I’ll post and say hey, here’s my book, go buy it. Or maybe I won’t. But I know that I shouldn’t let that stop me writing. So I won’t. I hope it doesn’t stop you.
Thank you, for reading this post.
Ans also to all my lovely beta readers, to the people on twitter who have joined in with my discussion, who have sent supportive messages, my friends and family and to my lovely agent who has hand held in the best way and just gets me more than anyone has in a very long time.
I’m not giving up, I learning how to fail up.