Sunday, September 23, 2012

Too Small to Fail

Kathryn Stockett's manuscript for The Help was turned down by 60 agents before finally being accepted. Not 60 publishing houses or 60 editors, who considered the book for publication but decided to pass. Sixty literary agents refused to even submit it to a publisher on her behalf because it would tarnish their reputation to represent such an awful, terrible story.

That's like being told by eHarmony that you're too horrible a person to even take their compatibility test.

There's someone for everyone.
Just kidding.
Of course, The Help went on to become a huge best-seller and a critically acclaimed movie. And 60 snotty literary agents probably flagellate themselves with their Kindles every time they're reminded of that fact.

Kathryn Stockett never gave up, not even when she sailed past the number of rejections where most reasonable people would agree she had given it her best shot.

The moral of the story is...I haven't failed nearly enough to be successful yet. I may think I'm struggling to find an audience for my writing, but I ain't seen nothing yet. In fact, the number of setbacks and disappointments I've experienced is at this point an insult to writers who actually have the balls and the tenacity to keep going in the face of failure.

How many young idealists have been ruined by that wrinkly green bastard?
I've spent my life desperately afraid to fail. To the point that I adopted Yoda's philosophy as my own: to avoid the inherent risk of "do or do not," I banished "try." I don't think that's what he meant, but I took the idea and ran with it. Ran right the hell away from the opportunities that come with trying.

I can't tell you how frustrated and upset and sad I get when I write something that I think is especially good, that I think will tickle people and inspire them to comment and share, and it sinks without a trace. I can't tell you how many times I've decided to shut down this blog after noticing yet again how few hits it receives relative to other writers' sites. Hell, my own Beloved Spouse doesn't read it; why should I be surprised when no one else does?

But I keep writing and posting, because I enjoy it. And because I know that at least a few other souls read it and (say they) enjoy it, and that makes me feel really good. What I don't acknowledge as readily is that I need the low readership numbers and the blinding indifference to my passion. I need them to stack up and stare me in the face. I hate them, but I need them.

Like vegetables.
I have to continue to fail. Maybe for the rest of my life. As much as being rejected or flat-out ignored is painful, it's not as bad as the knowledge that fear ruled me all my life. That would suck as an epitaph: Never tried, never failed.

This one is much more awesome.
If I'm going to die unsung, let me at least be an unsung writer. That means I've got to fail at it. Which means I've got to keep trying.

Goddamn, that sucks.

But hey, if you're going to succeed at anything, why not at failing?

You've got to start somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I'm here! Can you tell when people read via RSS? Because I read everything. Even commented (once). And I read your CC posts with pleasure, too. So there.


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