Thursday, March 7, 2013

Failure Is a Good Thing

This post is not a whine or complaint. I feel as if I need to start there, because last time I posted something that mentioned negativity and my hormone disorder that can lead to depression without me realizing it, some folks misread my intended tone. (My apologies on that.)

But contrary to what some in the self-esteem movement say, failure is a good thing.

Why do I say that? Because.

Failure means you tried.

You can only fail if you try something. You could go through life trying nothing, I suppose, and you'd never fail…but you'd never succeed, either.

I'm likely showing my age and generation here, but I'm reminded of the song "Rock Star" by the band Superchic[k]. (I think they've since changed their name to drop the square brackets.) That song pretty much says "If our band fails, that's fine! We'll have tried. We don't have to become big names out of it." (For those unfamiliar with the band: Superchic[k] is Christian teen pop, geared for girls, and their songs tend to be encouraging. I personally think "Bowling Ball" and "Wonder (If She'll Get it)" are hilarious, and the song "Na Na" singlehandedly helped me improve my relationship with my brother when I was a teen.)

Now, there's such thing as trying foolishly, as when you do something for the umpteenth time in the exact same way as has failed all those times before. But anything can be done foolishly. That foolishness doesn't invalidate the value of the action, properly enacted.

This came to mind this week because I had two announcements. One I posted in a blog post—and speaking of which, A Fistful of Fire is still in that "Read an Ebook Week" promotion on Smashwords, which lasts through Saturday—and that got some downloads.

But I also released the short story "Kill Jill" earlier this week (featuring Romeo and Jillian), via an update to the blog's side bar and a tweet. I know some folks are interested in that story, but evidently the readers who are interested in it (Pneumarian, note the code in the sidebar -_^) don't stalk my blog and Twitter feed.

Those results are even understandable, considering I only post once a week, and I don't use Twitter much. (I also tend to use Twitter more for chatting than for anything else.)

See, some self-publishing authors focus on the "Oh, noes! I haven't moved any copies of 'Kill Jill' since release day! Something must be wrong! I must promote—promote—promote (or give away) to get more reviews and readers and move more copies!"

Me, I'm looking at that and thinking, "Okay, so announcing a new release in the blog sidebar doesn't do anything, at this point."

I'm not expecting the short story to take off or anything like that, just from this little heads-up to my readers. But I anticipate seeing at least a few copies in readers' hands by the time the weekend's up. I'm working on creating a print version—"Romeo & Jillian" + "Kill Jill", in a double book—but it looks as though CreateSpace doesn't allow that, so I'll be having to try somebody else. Drive Thru Fiction, perhaps.

This concept—of looking at failure and thinking, Okay, so what can I learn from this?—applies in far more than the world of self-publishing. It can apply to life, studying, cooking…

As a cooking example, I've recently started playing with chia seed pudding. I found a recipe that I loved (though I admittedly modified it slightly and forgot to write one of the changes down, so I don't remember the quantity). I've been since experimenting and trying to create a version that my father would like. So far, I haven't exactly been successful. (One of these days, I'll remember that he doesn't care for cassia—which is the spice that most of us call "cinnamon". Cinnamon's actually something else. But I digress.)

Failure is an opportunity to evaluate where you went wrong—if you went wrong—and try again.

To put it another way: Failure is an opportunity to learn.

And that's all too easy to lose sight of.

What do you think about failure and its ability to be a good thing?


Oops! ETA:

I forgot to mention: Note the link on the header bar to my policy regarding beta reading and beta readers. Whether you're a reader curious about how it works or a writer trying to put your own policies together, feel free to check it out. ^_^

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