Several days ago, I wrote about a quote (Fail Better) that means a lot to me, especially with regard to my writing. Today I’m going to demonstrate how I apply the quote to my life, specifically my writing life. Here’s the quote: “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett
I am a short fiction writer. I started by taking a writing class about 5 or 6 years ago. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my poetry (both publishing and writing new material), so I thought I’d try my hand at fiction writing. Most of my poems are narrative, anyway so why not, right?
The class lit a spark in me, and I began to write again. I wrote many stories, most of which are unfinished, and a few that have been published the traditional way. That means the work has to go through editors/readers before they publish it in their literary journals/magazines (online and in print).
In order to be published, you have to submit your work to the journal, whether online or snail mail. Most only take online submissions now. It’s then read by several editors until they make a decision. Although they sometimes send an e-mail notifying you that they’ve received your work, it could take maybe 6 months to hear back. One thing that most editors don’t do, however, is provide you with feedback on your story.
The most common result is a rejection. I’ve received tons of those. But for some reason, I’m able to take it with a grain of salt. Just let it slide and keep moving forward. I’m sure I wouldn’t have that attitude towards any other type of rejection. Like when I was rejected by a PHP once upon a time. I was incensed lol!
There is also such a thing as a “personal rejection,” which is not the same boilerplate rejection they send to everybody. In this type of email, the editor writes about your story saying things like how much they liked it, or how well you used a particular technique. If they really liked it, they’ll invite you to send more work. This is no guarantee that they’ll publish you, but I would still send something right away. Not sending more work is a mistake I’ve made several times because I never had another story ready to submit. (Now I have 2 on the back burner!) Lol
So to me, getting a personal rejection is failing better. It means to keep moving forward even though you’ve already tried (sending work out), and failed (getting a rejection, which most writers receive). No, maybe the editors didn’t want to publish my work this time, but some invited me to send more stories and told me what they like about my work. I keep my rejection letters/emails. It makes finally receiving an acceptance all the more rewarding.
How do you “fail better”?