Monday, August 4, 2014

The Freedom of Failure

In yesterday's Arkansas Democrat Gazette I read an article by Stephen Marche:  Failure is the muse of writers.  Over the years I had read a lot of things denoting the downside of being a writer.  He did a good job encapsulating them in an interesting article.

I have also noticed the ascendancy of entrepreneurs in making note of the times they fail over many different enterprises.  I'm sure you've heard the adage:  The only one who don't fail are those who never try.  And I do agree somewhat with the thought.

Marche points out that all those folks are really wannabes in the failure world.  The top of the heap in coping with the knowledge of failure are all the writers in the world.  Failure is built into the job description from the very get-go.  He (and others) have pointed out that there are over 300,000 books  published every year in the United States.  Anyone can figure out that the vast majority will never make it to any best seller list anywhere.  And of those who do achieve some modicum of success, there is always the thought it will not be repeated.

So, why write?  I'm sure there are as many reasons for that as there are writers.  But everybody's got to do something.  Some write and make a decent living at it.  They would most likely include those who have found a way into the world of professional writers in all the various forms - entertainment, journalism (although sometimes there is little difference between some of them), advertisers, editors, promoters.

I can only speak for myself.  I write because I just can't see not writing.  I like to write fiction.  I write to entertain and try to bring a bit of quirky humor to a story line.  I didn't try to write for way too many years, because I really didn't have confidence in myself and worried about the resultant criticism that would surely follow.  But over the years, I would jot down story ideas or produce short stories.

Then came the time life lassoed my freedom and I wound up in an ever more restricting environment due to circumstances well beyond my control with no foreseeable end in sight.  No, I didn't wind up in jail.  But you make choices in life in how you deal with the vagaries of aging and with family members facing horrible challenges.  I found for myself the best way to deal with this was to write.

I can write whenever I need to escape yet stay in place.  I can write as often as I find time or let it go whenever I can't focus on the words or plot or characters.  And I determined to self-publish because I face only the deadlines I impose on myself.  I can't get out and market the work, but I can still get it out there.  If God grants me time, marketing can come later.  If not, oh well.  There are still the occasional books sold and the very welcome odd bits of comments on the work.

I relish these comments, whether from family, friends or complete strangers.  I like them whether they come from reviewers' comments, e-mail, snail mail or phone calls.  And now as I do the finishing work in preparing my third novel, I still enjoy what I'm doing.  How long will I do it?  I have no idea.   

As for all those thoughts of failure, I actually find a real freedom in the knowledge that is lurking out there just around the corner.  Statistically, I have to fail.  So what?  In my mind I have achieved success because I have completed some real stories.  From my viewpoint, any sales put me ahead of the game.  Any positive feedback gives me moments of true joy.  And I can look at the finished product and see real achievement rising from times of sadness and stress.  I know that life has not gotten me down, that I can still have fun and find amusement somewhere in my mind that can relax me and push the devil back down into his dark place, alone.

What more can you ask from life's journey?

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