Monday, September 28, 2015

Failure and Success are Inseparable

By Jennifer Goble

J. Watson, Sr., the chairman and CEO of IBM from 1914 until 1956, is attributed with saying, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”

Writers know, all too well, the agony of rejection and subsequent self-degradation.

Examples of authors (http://bubblecow.com/) who modeled tenacity in the grueling world of publishing:

  • Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected by 25 publishers.
  •  The Dr. Seuss book, And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected for being "too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant selling.”
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected 40 times.
  • C.S. Lewis received over 800 rejections before he sold a single piece of writing.
  • The manuscript for The Diary of Anne Frank received the editorial comment, "This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.”
  • Louis L’Amour was rejected over 200 times before he sold any of his writing. 
  • The San Francisco Examiner turned down Rudyard Kipling’s submission in 1889 with the note, "I am sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just do not know how to use the English language." 
An agent told me, “Who would ever read this? Why did you even write about Terri, her story is so pointless!” I was crushed. It took me several weeks to pickup my manuscript, reread it, and determine, again, my client’s stories, discouraging as some were, had the potential to help many people.

The process of proudly holding a book we author involves years of practice and circles of success and failure. If we expect immediate contracts and financial independence, we are truly unrealistic. That was me. My learning curve was vertical.

My granddaughter golfing reminds me of the years of practice, frustration, criticism, discouragement and glimmers of hope that precede success. Writing is not golf, but it is similar. Golfers swing at a tiny target, for years, before feeling consistent competence. Writers do the same with letters and words; practice, control, improve.

If we truly want to achieve, we must remember  we learn with every failure, every lesson increases our odds of success, and practice reaps improvement. 

We all started writing as young children, and if we allow failure to guide us through success, our words will eventually influence, entertain, or educate others. 

What helps you maximize failure? 


Until the next time: Live while you live!

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