I have it. It seems to happen every 3 or so months, and there’s nothing I can do but take a break. I’ve tried forcing myself to write in the past, and that just doesn’t work for me. So please be patient with me. I’ll be back by the end of the month. Thanks!
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”?
Long ago, I owned a t-shirt with this quote on it, and the quote became my favorite. It was from grad school, specifically the MFA Creative Writing program at the university. I wish I knew what happened to the t-shirt. I’m pretty sure they’re no longer available.
I first learned of Samuel Beckett in high school. Some friends and I saw a play called Waiting for Godot, and I remember that it impacted me. The gist of it, to me, was that you can always sit around waiting for something that may never happen; or you can get off your ass and do something about it. Simplistic, but that’s how I understood it.
Beckett didn’t come up again until grad school, believe it or not, in the form of the above quote on a t-shirt. And it impacted me in much the same way as the play did. At the time, I was sending out poems, poems, and more poems to various literary journals for publication. All I received were rejections, rejections, and more rejections. Failure. Because of this quote, I was able to put the rejections behind me and start again. I was ready to fail better.
Is there a quote that you love?
I read this on Rory’s blog (above), and he got it from Wondering Belle’s Blog. Go visit these blogs! There’s a quiz you can take to learn about your creativity (link below). Here’s my creative style:
CREATIVITY IS A RELEASE For you, creativity is first and foremost a form of expression: it creates a special link between the internal and external worlds. It allows you to get a grasp of your powerful emotions by moulding them into a physical form. In fact, the most important thing for you is to be able to release your emotions. You need to be able to touch them or look at them in concrete form, and to do that you have to find a way to make them come alive. This is how your desires and anxieties take shape. Keeping things bottled up creates a tension that can only be resolved once you have expressed how you feel. This means you have to be strong enough not to let yourself get swept away by chaotic impulses; if you turn your creative urges on everyday life–making a picnic, singing to the baby, choosing what to wear–you can express yourself while staying rooted in reality. Creativity is principally cathartic. It relieves a deep need, an almost primal, archaic impulse. For you, being creative is about having the power to give form to something you feel, to those deep personal issues that are often raw and disorganised. For these reasons you are usually attracted to art that demands physicality, that allows you to express what’s inside and that unites spontaneity and strength, freedom, power and movement.
I think this is a pretty good description of me and my creativity. I began writing because I needed to express how I was feeling even though I didn’t know that at the time. I was 11.
What’s your creative style? (link to quiz)
So I completed this challenge yesterday. Well, I didn’t totally complete it because I skipped a few of the exercises. Only a few, though. And in some cases, I went back and did them. The challenge really helped me get my act together as far as my writing practice goes.
The e-mail announcing the day’s writing exercise arrived in my Inbox at 10:00 am every day in April. I changed my morning routine around and dedicated time for writing as soon as I got the e-mail.
The exercises took me an hour or more to do, which I thought was great. I really got into doing them. Most of it isn’t my best writing, but there are snippets that I can take advantage of and maybe put into a new story. (Note that this challenge wasn’t just for fiction, but for non-fiction and poetry, as well.)
Normally, I write on my computer. I can keep up with my thoughts better when I type. For the challenge, I did it in longhand. Maybe because it feels more organic to write on paper? Or maybe it was part of the instructions? Lol, I don’t remember.
And that’s part of the problem with writing on paper–I’d often forget an idea that came to me seconds ago, before I had a chance to write it down. It’s so frustrating and I attribute this memory loss to having ECT. Anyway, I had a great pen and journal to use!
I’m really glad I did this and hope they have more challenges coming soon. If I hear of anything I will, of course, spread the word!
Can you write for 30 days straight?