What a strong word. That’s why I put it up there all by its lonesome. I sit back and let that word play over in my mind, wondering exactly how many things I’ve failed at in this life. The list is ever expanding, so I won’t bore you with details. Instead, I’ll tell you about a recent failure of mine. So recent, in fact, that my ass is still burning over it.
A week and two days ago, my daughter gave me an ultimatum. To add some perspective, she’s seven, loves her father very much, and is disappointed on a regular basis because Daddy seems to be always busy writing. Her challenge was simple, or so I thought. She was giving me a week to finish my new book (that was extended by two days because she requested that I play with her this weekend). After that, she would be absconding with my laptop for the course of two weeks. No internet. No writing. Nothing but fun and games involving a daddy and his Tum-Tum. I was already 35k into the new book, so I figured, Hell, why not. After all, I wrote Bay’s End in just under two weeks, and that book was 55k. Having such a head start on the new one, I knew it could be done. And easily. Boy, was I fucking wrong.
I wrote like a madman. You see, part of the stipulations of my daughter’s ultimatum stated that I was to be left alone so that I could write to my heart’s content. Everyone in the house acquiesced, holding up their end of the bargain. It was all up to me. That’s when the quagmire that is writing by the seat of your pants reared its ugly little head. I became stuck in a bog of my own making. Trudging through the muck, I found myself deviating from the course. So much so, that I wrote 23,500 words of pure, absolute nonsense. That novella length section is now in cyber prison and will not likely see parole anytime soon. You might be saying to yourself, “E., come on… it can’t be that bad.” Well, screw you. It is. Why? Because I say so. It’s my book, I’ll cry if I want to.
In the end, I failed. Today is the final day and I’ve only managed another eleven thousand words. This isn’t my first failure, but it hurts just the same. Honestly, the feeling in my guts couldn’t get any worse. This is where the title of this Ruminating On comes into play. I love being tested, but I refuse to be bested. I will take my two weeks off because I made a promise. But, I will return to this dirty motherfucker with bells on. I’m giving myself another seven days after this mandatory vacation. It’s called tenacity, and I’m so damn full of the shit is pouring out of my ears.
When I was younger, I was told everyday, without fail, that I’d become a failure at all things. It was my father’s way of telling me he loved me and that he wanted me to be just like him. Ever since I realized the man had no control over my future, I promised myself that even when I did fail, I would be the first one to recognize and correct that fact. Failure is nothing but an opportunity to try again. To be better. Because, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”
Three of you got that quote. The rest of you need to look up Stuart Smalley.
Anyway, I’m going to fail. It’s a given. But guess what? You are too. That is the real point of this week’s blog. Whether it be a rejection slip from a publisher, or a job application that didn’t pay off, you’re not going to succeed every time. But failure should not be your focus. Your goal should be staying tenacious. Keep on fighting the good fight and press forward into the fray. Let the bullets from your detractors sail over your limboing form like your name is Neo, and dude, you know Kung Fu. The people that say you can’t do something probably aren’t doing it themselves. The ones that laugh at you when you’re down are normally beneath you anyway, so, a duck’s back plus water. If you get my drift. The only real and true failure is giving up. Remember that above all. You can keep retrying, restarting and reimagining things until they work for you. So what if you failed the first time. If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t appreciate the successes as much.
In summation, I want you to fail. A lot. I welcome failure because I learn from it. You should too.
I’ll see you folks in two weeks.
Tum-Tum, make it so!