I Resolve: Failure & Success
Oh, those pesky 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.
So 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. 🙂
This 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! ?