Failing With Style

I’m not used to failing. I grew up in the self-esteem generation, complete with participation trophies and points for effort. For much of my life, I found that I was successful at most things I devoted my time to. Now, I think I’m a pretty good writer, so it’s come as a surprise at how difficult it is to be successful in this field.

Rejections are part of the business. If you’re serious about being a writer, you’re going to get stacks of them. It can come as a shock for those of us who always garnered praise for our mastery of the word. But the real world is full of people like that; everyone’s got a short story or a novel to shop around. They can’t all make it big. The myth of the writer being “discovered” and rocketed to fame has poisoned us and made the reality hard to accept. That reality is that even good writers, even excellent writers, struggle to get published.

Being a writer means being unread and unappreciated and it means clawing your way to the top. It means writing late at night after a long shift at the job that pays for your writing habit and being told “no” over and over. The years are littered with rejections and dreams deferred. I suspect a lot of very talented people give up. The pages disappear into a desk drawer and they move on.

But some of us are crazy enough to stick it out. We hang that rejection up where we can see it because it’s a challenge — it dares us to persevere. Somehow, we get the idea that this is part of the lifestyle we’ve chosen. This is how we pay our dues.

Someday, I hope to see my name in print. Not because I got lucky or because I was “discovered,” but because I worked hard to get there and saw every rejection as an opportunity to improve my craft.

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I’m a writer. And writers write. Often, it’s hard to get writer’s to shut up. So, someone came up with the idea of a microblogging service that lets writers make their unending stream of consciousness available to the masses. It’s called Twitter and you should totally follow me: @jonnyeberle.

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