As an emerging writer, I’m often faced with having to work through my fear of failure. It seems as if I’ve failed at so many things, I should be an expert at it by now. My first marriage failed dismally, and I’ve failed at virtually every job I’ve ever taken on. Then I got into writing, and the very nature of that beast means I’ll be met with failure, rejection, and more failure. I’m not a masochist, honestly. I’m just determined to continue moving toward what I do want, rather than settling for something close to it.
For years I was a single parent, raising two kids, and living on the poverty line. I had no job, no money, and was at the lowest point in my life. I couldn’t see how I was ever going to turn my life around, but I always thought I would. I believed that I could achieve better than my circumstances at the time. I was right, but it didn’t come easy. It never does.
When I talk to people who attend my book signings and library readings, I hear so many of them tell me they always wanted to DO something. They had a dream that they let slip through their fingers. Or worse, they feared failing if they tried. I get it. I know what it is to face your fears, and try to step beyond them. I also know that failure isn’t just a possibility when you reach for your dreams, or a life you want to have, it’s guaranteed. What helps me is to remember that I’m not alone. In fact, I’m in some of the greatest company possible. JK Rowling comments often that she felt like a colossal failure for most of her life, before publishing the Harry Potter series of books. Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, received 144 rejections before landing a publisher. And virtually every well-respected inventor or luminary has experienced failure on a HUGE scale. So, I figure I’m okay.
Failure leads to learning, and learning leads to success. One can’t happen without the other. I also know that, just like Rowling, had I succeeded at any other job, I would never have begun to write, or stuck with it for so long. That’s the beauty of life; we don’t know what’s around the next corner, or whose lives we touch.
Just today I watched a video interview featuring writer, Lisa Nichols, the author of “No Matter What”. I was fascinated by her story. Lisa talks about how, in her college days, one of her professors told the entire class that Lisa was “the weakest writer he’d ever met”. That fuelled a fire under Lisa, and she went on to become of the world’s most renowned writers. She didn’t set out to be a writer, but when the opportunity came, she went for it. That woman deserves the praise and accolades she receives, not only for writing, but for speaking out.
With the upcoming release of my second book, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, I too have begun to take on public speaking engagements. Talk about overcoming a fear of failure! Before becoming a published writer, I’d never dreamed of speaking in public. The very thought terrified me. But I knew if I wanted to get the word out about my work, I was going to have to get over it. What I discovered surprised me. Turns out I love it, and others claim I’m good at it. I soon realized that I had nothing to fear. Those who had come to hear me speak only wanted me to share what I already knew about novel writing and publishing. I could do that. I was confident that I could provide some value to what they were seeking, so I relaxed and enjoyed the process. Even more than the speaking part though, I enjoyed the Q&A that followed. I love hearing the questions and connecting with people. Public speaking offers me a forum to do this, and I love it, so I’ve begun to expand and offer other topics relating to motivation and encouragement for groups, companies, etc..
A few months ago, I participated in my first podcast interview at Eat, Sleep, Write. I was keyed up in fear for days in advance, but on the day of recording, I relaxed. I realized it was just like public speaking in front of an audience. I was there to share what small knowledge I had on the topic of writing and publishing, and of course, my work. It went beautifully, and was fun. As a result of having said yes to the host’s request to do the podcast, it lead to him asking me to pull together a roundtable discussion podcast with two other paranormal mystery writers. I was thrilled. I knew who I wanted, and I knew I wanted it to be as interesting as possible for listeners. As a Canadian writer, I wanted an international feel to the next podcast, so I invited UK’s Karen Perkins, best-selling author of Thores-Cross, and USA Today’s best-selling author, Tonya Kappes, to join us. What a resounding success that has been, with the podcast going live today at eatsleepwrite.net! It was such fun learning how other authors work within the paranormal mystery genre in very different ways. Karen focuses on the darker side of paranormal, Tonya infuses humour into her paranormal mystery stories, and mine, as romantic paranormal mysteries. My point is, if I’d allowed my fear of failure to stop me from accepting the first interview, I would never have had the opportunity to work with Adam again, or with Tonya and Karen on this one.
Now, I’m a HUGE fan of Walt Disney, and Disney World in Florida. Ever since my parents took me and my three siblings to the Magic Kingdom back in the ‘70’s, and after years of watching Disney movies, I’ve had a thing for “Uncle Walt”. What I’ve loved is the man’s ability to move through failures, and he had lots of them, while using his imagination to visualize a future like none other. Many, many times throughout my life, I’ve had to hold on to my visualization for a better future, and I still do, every day. Imagination isn’t just about fantastical or magical books and characters, it’s the corner stone behind virtually every medical and technological development known to man. Someone has to first have the imagination to conceive of the idea, and that’s truly amazing, but its not enough. After all, As Lisa Nichols says, “Vision + Action = Success; Vision + Inaction = Wishful Thinking.” Wishful thinking is NOT enough. We have to be willing to put the action into place and DO something to move us forward to success. Without it, we go nowhere. That’s where so many go wrong. They rely on wishes, good intentions, and visualize the heck out of something, but they stop short of actually doing what’s necessary to achieve their goal.
The other thing I’ve learned is that to succeed at something, you have to have Guts. You have to believe you have the right to achieve the outcome you want, and just go for it. So many times I didn’t try hard enough. I knew I wasn’t giving my previous jobs my all, and so wasn’t really surprised when they didn’t work out. But when I discovered my passion for writing, I knew going in I’d have to pull out all the stops. I’d have to push myself and not allow failure, rejections, or a lack of imagination for the future stop me. It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s damned hard, but it’s worth it. I’m still struggling to make ends meet, and my writing career is far from stellar yet, but I’ll keep pushing, striving, and writing, until it’s as good as I can possibly make it. Oh, I’ll still also wish upon lots of stars, because that’s part of the magic of being human. More importantly, I’ll add a hefty dose of action behind the wishes.
I guess I’m like Cinderella; I want to go to the ball and dance with the prince at the palace.