This week my new group, the Penwrights, broached the subject of failure. I can't recall what was involved in the original conversation starter, but it lead to a very important point. One which every writer--in fact, anyone striving for success--should come to.
When you set out on any journey, you're not presented with two options: success or failure. If life were only so simple. After all, if you succeed, great. If you fail, well, the pressure's off. You can go back to American Idol or planting crops on Farmville.
No. Failure is simply the point at which we give up. Success is still out there at the end of a very long road, but we've stopped along the way. Think of it as the early American settlers who "failed" to make it to California. Failure didn't happen to them, they simply chose to stop in Missouri.
I've watched a lot of writers come and go now. I've also watched a few who stuck around. Most of the stuck arounds are published or well on their way. Know the difference? Some stopped typing while others kept at it.
But that's not fair, you say. Some of the published writers got pubbed after only a few years of trying. I've been at it for ten years and still nada, zip, a big fat zero. Welcome to the dream. No one said the Oregon Trail would provide clear passage for every wagon that ventured upon it. Some of them got snow, arrows, drought, you name it. Never the same trail twice.
It will be the same for any venture we undertake. If you want to be a success, you identify the goal and start moving that way. Lord, I hated typing that. It's been said so many times it's cliche (you know what they say about cliches...avoid them like the plague). But some truths are so self evident that they need repeating.
One of my "mile markers" this year is to get my writerly website up and going. As soon as I'm done here I'll be on to that. Then I'll work on my article for Women 2 Women Michigan. It's not a big paying job, but it's writing. So is this by the way. Every stroke of the key is one step closer to a book on the shelf. Every "no" is one step closer to a "yes."
By the way, some of you may honestly decide you're not cut out for whatever it was you set out to do. That's fine. But I implore you, don't be like 99% of the people in the world who are happy to sit by and let life happen to them. Choose another course. Challenge yourself. If you fail 99 times out of a hundred, thank God for that 100th attempt.
Keep typing. See you at the end of the trail.