No one wants to talk about, or even think about, failure.
Fear of failure is what keeps us from acting, from trying new things, from fulfilling our dreams. Because there’s that little nagging voice in the back of our heads that whispers, “What if you fail? If you don’t try it in the first place, you can’t fail.”
Lies, I say!
I used to subscribe to this way of thinking…for years, in fact. I have always been writing, but I haven’t always written original stories like I do now. I spent years and years living in the wonderful world of fan fiction, both reading and writing it. I was comfortable playing with other people’s characters, but create my own? Well, that was downright scary.
What a daunting task!
Even after I woke in the middle of one mid-October night in 2006 with a fictional name on my lips and an idea to write a story based on my late grandma’s life, I still didn’t fully embrace conquering my fears. The momentum of excitement over the idea drove me for a few weeks. I created a family tree with character names, read my grandma’s accounts of what it was like growing up in the early twentieth century, took notes, and even wrote two chapters. Over the next two years, I turned out two more chapters. In early 2009, I had four chapters and not much else.
Of course, during this time, I was prolific with writing fan fiction. That took center stage. But write an original story? I’d have the idea in the back of my mind and think about sitting down to write more, but I rarely actually opened the document.
I told several friends that my dream was to be a published author. I had a couple of people who would ask how my story was going. My answer: It’s not.
And as much as I wanted to be an author, I didn’t really think it would seriously happen. Ever.
Then a funny thing happened in March of 2015. I wasn’t writing much fan fiction any longer, my life filled with taking care of my kids. I thought, “Why don’t I just try it? I’ll commit myself to writing for fifteen minutes a day, every day, and see what happens. Even if I never publish it or share it with anyone, at least I can say I wrote an original story.”
Ten months later, I had my first draft. A few months after that, I had a final draft and tried querying agents. Scary, right?
It wasn’t scary at all, but rather liberating and amazing! I couldn’t believe I’d done it, and I was now serious about writing more books, already in the process of writing two more manuscripts.
I was prepared for rejection from agents, as I had read a lot about the process. Few unknowns get their foot in the door. That was okay with me, because the bigger accomplishment was writing and then editing the story! I had looked my fear of failure in the eye and owned it. It wouldn’t be a failure to me if no agent picked it up, because I had done something to be proud of. I self-published the book, and now I’m living my dream.
The failure wasn’t in not traditionally publishing it. Nor was it is not making a ton of money or having a load of people read it.
Because I wrote it. I tried, really made the effort.
The only way I would have failed would have been to not write the story AT ALL.
So you try something and decide it’s not for you, or you start something and give it your all and it doesn’t pan out. Okay. You did NOT fail. You tried, really tried. You didn’t let fear dictate your life.
I have come to firmly believe that the only way we fail is to do nothing.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
That’s in the same spirit as my belief about the only way to fail.
Be bold. Be courageous. Be triumphant.
Because life isn’t meant to be lived in a box.
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