I experienced two what might be called failures recently. In the space of three days. On Saturday, I received a rejection from an agent. On Monday, a publisher declined to consider my manuscript. It was the same book in both instances.
To me they were failures. Something about my writing did not strike either the agent or the publisher as worthy of representation or publication. And they added to a string of rejections.
I allowed myself a brief pity party. And then I went to the Lord, asking for direction and strength if he wanted me to continue writing.
I’ve entered a time of prayerful reassessment of who I am and how he bests wants me to serve him. Then I received a blog post from a former pastor in the stewardship ministry at my church.
And I’ve discovered or been reminded of a few things.
One is—it’s unreasonable to think I can achieve success without some failures along the way. Remember learning to ride a bike? Or driving a stick shift? Striking out with a cute girl?
Failure can either stop us completely or it can teach me something about who I am and what I’m trying to do. Failure doesn’t determine my future. Unless I let it. What determines my future is what I do after I fail.
I am not a failure unless I decide to quit and let the failure define me. Before I make this decision, I need to make sure I’m hearing from God and not my self-pity.
Here are four things I’ve discovered thus far:
- Embrace the fact that failure is part of the journey. When something doesn’t work there are often other ways to achieve my goal. Including learning to be better at what I do. The cliché is “back to the drawing board.”
- Failure is not about me as a person. Failure is the result of an action I took or did not take.
- Don’t quit. Failure is not a reflection of who I am. Failure is part of life, of growing. We’re all in good company. The only one on this earth who got it right the first time is Jesus.
- I can’t change the past. So move on. Assess, learn, make corrections, and get back to work. Don’t play the role of victim.
How do you handle failure?
Mr. Henry, I’m here from your post on Edie Melson’s page. I enjoyed your post there and this one as well. I needed the encouragement from both. Most of the time I might allow myself some ‘pity party’ moments then I’m off on another adventure after a setback. However, when there are more than one at a time it is a bit more difficult.
Another post on Edie’s site a few days ago was batting around the idea that perhaps writing of today may be done with a different view in mind. As writers, we are told to write a story that keeps the reader turning pages even if the content may not have the quality of literature in the past. Indeed, some of the works I have read lately have left me thinking there was something missing.
I’ll have to check out your books, and I’m prayerful you find an agent/publisher and all goes better in your future. Thank you for your words. Blessings, Donevy Westphal