“Failure Is Not Fatal”

Between classes at school yesterday, I saw the exciting news. The list of writers moving on to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award had been announced. As my creative writing students wandered into the room, I checked the list, swiping down the page with my tingling fingers.

There were many names, but this year, mine wasn’t among them.

I won’t deny the wave of disappointment that washed over me. I made it through the first round with the same pitch last year, so the overly hopeful and optimistic side of me somewhat assumed that I would make it that far again. Perhaps I would even make it further. (Perhaps I would finally be one step closer to achieving one of my dreams since so many of them seem to constantly elude me…)

Being a writer, though, means facing rejection on a frequent basis. The only times I haven’t met rejection in my writing career were with a kindergarten story contest, a high school essay contest, a college poetry contest (that I don’t think anyone else entered except for the other guy who was picked and me), and the first round of ABNA last year.

But that’s okay. I don’t write for other people. I write for me. Because it’s like my heartbeat. I can’t stop it, and I wouldn’t even want to if I could.

As I calmly carried on with my creative writing class, two words of encouragement came to mind.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

“If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same…”
– “If” by Rudyard Kipling

Rejection is part of life. It just means it’s time to pick yourself back up by your bootstraps and continue on. Those red badges of courage are reminders that life’s too short not to take risks, and today’s “no” could be a “yes” tomorrow.

Besides, it’s great writing motivation (once I calmed my inner editor back down). There are so many stories to write and perfect, and who knows which one will be the one that will start a published career?

What encourages you when you face rejection?

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8 responses to ““Failure Is Not Fatal”

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    I think I got somewhat inured to rejection when I was a musician. Writers face rejection of course, but it’s a bit more direct when your audience mostly walks out (or back to the bar, at least) when you’re on stage. For one thing, you get to watch them do it.

    But I really believe in persistence. As the characters say in The Hotel New Hampshire, you’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed. I wrote about persistence on my blog a while ago: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=392

  • C.B. Wentworth

    Your day will come! You are talented, imaginative, and hard-working. The right opportunity will come along and you will be there to embrace it. Keep believing in your work and never give up.

    The way I see it, we took a big step by putting ourselves out there and trying. It’s so much better than doing nothing at all. :-)

  • homedreamer07

    Well written. And ditto to Wentworth’s comments. You will totally have your day. I love the Kipling quote, I’m going to have to print that one. Thanks for the encouragement to fellow writers!

  • Lissa Clouser

    You know I actually keep a binder with every rejection notice I receive, whether personalized, auto-response, or simply a list of contest winners that doesn’t have my name on it. To some people this might be depressing, but I always look at it as proof that I’ve TRIED.

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