Alex Callahan

Perfect mix of magic and mayhem

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Failure is indeed an option

Random Thought Process Alert:

Someone at work told me recently: “Failure is not an option”. I laughed and nodded before we both moved on to another task we’ve been discussing. But at the back of my head, I heard a nagging voice insisting that “yes, it is.”

Failure is part of life, more so when you’re a writer. Our craft is so subjective than even when you’re at your best, someone somewhere will hate what you put out.

Every time I get a rejection email from an agent, that’s one more failure on my balance sheet. And yes, every time it hurts, but I can’t deny its impact on me.

Failure has taught me so much over the years.

I learned time management and how to prioritize my tasks, and what happens when I don’t do it. I learned what things I actually value and what I can live without. I learned how to manage my money and why ignoring my problems can lead to disaster.

More importantly: I learned to motivate myself when the results of my work are not immediate. I learned to establish my own standards and work hard to achieve them, to work hard until I’m satisfied with the results. And I learned to be very careful about whose opinions I care about and who do I allow to influence me and my choices.

So yeah, failure is indeed an option. It’s the option that allowed me to grow, to become better. A better person. A better writer. A better career woman.

Simply better.

Context is key, so is the approach (a.k.a. Alex realized she knows how to English)

I try to police myself on Twitter these days, otherwise, it would swing between two huge subjects: current rage-inducing events and my hunt for the mythical beast, The Agent. It’s the introvert in me, not wanting to spiral into the extreme. It does mean I’m turning to my good old coping mechanism: The Distraction.

On Twitter, it’s all the funny stuff (and puppies). The Agent Hunt (yes, I’m capitalizing that, what you gonna do about that?) is a little harder because it requires my action. Which means the distraction has to be equally active and engaging.

Result?

I decided to start on a new writing project. Something shiny to keep me occupied. A perfect solution really, especially with NaNoWriMo coming up, as it promises to keep me busy until it’s time for Christmas. (Side note: in a twisted kind of blessing work has been keeping me super busy as well, but that wasn’t intentional on my part, so I don’t think it counts).

The new project is a sequel to my previous NaNo story, a supernatural YA story about a bisexual witch. It’s fun and though the story is a bit intense, is has low stakes attached to it, as it’s different than what I usually go for. It’s the perfect distraction. It does require me to read the first book in the series though, which (FINALLY) brings me to the point.

That book I have to read? It’s a first draft. It’s a first draft written during NaNo. So it goes without saying that it’s horrible. The number of typos, placeholder words (where I couldn’t remember the word in English and so I wrote it in Polish instead) and in one cringe-inducing moment, a POV change – it would drive anyone insane.

But what I also realized: It’s good! It’s fun!

It was the kind of epiphany I needed. After spending ages on The Novel I’m currently shopping around, I was doubting myself. There were moments I almost convinced myself I don’t know how to English. After 4 rounds of edits, I was exhausted and nothing I’ve ever written seemed good enough. So reading something fresh that reminded me I love writing and I’m actually not bad at it? The perfect way to get my energy levels up, get my stress under control and my enthusiasm up. Perfect timing, really.

Now, don’t get me wrong. When I start editing that NaNo draft, I will no longer be impressed with myself (editing does that to a person), but for now, I’m gonna enjoy the high.

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