I Resolve: Failure & Success

Oh, those pesky resolutions. new-year-resolutions

Does anyone even care what a person resolves to do in the new year, or how they are (or likely not) accomplished? I doubt it. If you want to lose ten pounds or run a marathon or write a novel go forth and do it. Like so much in the world no one cares about your ambitions like you do. And that’s the way it should be.

When I first started writing, sending off work and getting back rejections, I learned to toughen myself to inevitable failure. Being a writer is failing, generally. The novel is never as good as it seemed in your head. The reviews are never quite as glowing as you’d like, and often a lot less glowing. The money is never what you dreamed. The loneliness is crushing at times. And these are just side issues.

The work itself is harder, less satisfying, and relentless in a way that you are never actually done. Writing, editing, rewriting, publishing: that’s the beginning. Now, in the indie publishing world especially, the blogging, the marketing, the tweeting, the schmoozing goes on indefinitely. There’s some good to that, with the “long tail” — your books can be discovered by new readers forever — but there’s also the onus of endless salesmanship.

idea-success-failureSo what is failure then? Because, for an artist, the only measure of success is inside of you. That’s probably the hardest thing to accept. When you choose a creative career your output, the quality of it, the quantity of it, the starting, the quitting, the starting over, is all up to you. The world may beat you down or praise you to the heights you don’t feel you deserve. Your head may explode with ego; your heart may shrivel with rejection. But the bottom line is, if you feel you have succeeded, there you are: you have succeeded. Not by the world’s measure perhaps, not by your mother’s measure, or your teacher’s, or your friend’s. But those measures are false. Your only measure of success is in your own heart and head. 

Getting to this point can be an emotional roller coaster. But hey, that’s life: ups, downs, highs, lows, and if you’re lucky, a measure of self-acceptance.  A small measure? Perhaps, but knowing you are not a failure, knowing it deep down in your gut, knowing you have given it everything you had, is worth the struggle. That small knowing is golden.

My resolution was simple last year: review every book I read, online somewhere. I fell behind in the summer so yesterday I reviewed six books. I didn’t review every book — if I didn’t finish it I don’t consider it “read.” I left a few books unreviewed anyway so I guess I failed. I’m getting good at this. 🙂

LaughterThis year I resolve something different. Small goals, hopefully doable.

  • Write every day.
  • Eat yogurt every day.
  • Walk every day.
  • Laugh every day.

I foresee the last one being the hardest. So I will check in here once in awhile with a laugh video and let you know how it’s going.

Ha-ha-happy new year! ?

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    Thanks for he comment, Ruth. Self-acceptance is a lifelong journey. But it is important for most writers to have readers. That two-way communication is also golden. Giving away books is great! And really nothing new. Just think if you had a book in every library in America?!

    Librarians…? Do you need books? We’re ready!

  • You got it right, Lisa. I think I’ve finally reached the acceptance level. There are too many books out there to achieve a stellar success unless you spend countless hours marketing. Not many readers will leave a review because they don’t want to take the time or they don’t realize how important their input is. The shortest review I got on one of my books was from a man in Denmark. “Good book. I liked it.” Then there are all those free books available to them. Why buy books when they can get them for nothing. I count the books I give away as part of the success. I write for my work to be read whether I give it away or get paid for it.

  • Well said, Lise. Happy 2016–may it be a year of your kind of success 🙂

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