Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of perseverance, is brought to you by multi-genre author AJ Race.
Lessons in Failure
I’ve come to an interesting realization regarding failure, we all know that many people are terrified of failure, but it’s kind of curious as to why? Why are people so afraid of failing?
I think part of the reason people are afraid of failure because in school we are taught that failure is the worst possible thing that could happen to us. And in school, failure is bad, if only because failing means you have to retake a class. In life, failure is simply something that happens. Failure is something we all have to deal with at one point or another. There is no successful person on this planet who didn’t fail at one time or another in their life. The difference between a successful person and a ‘failure’ is that the successful person NEVER GAVE UP. The only way you can truly fail is if you stop trying.
Let me give you a real world example. My very first blog through Blogger, had no readers, except me. I’m not even sure if anyone even knew it existed. Then, I got a website, ajrace.net, which again could easily be considered a failure. In fact, even my earliest Cult of Racewood blogs were not as successful at all. But I pressed on. I refused to give up and now I have an amazing group of readers and commenters, for whom I am beyond grateful for.
Even in my writing life there have been many quote unquote ‘failures’. During the last decade I’ve failed to secure an literary agent and publisher at least a hundred times over. But I refused to give up, so much so that I decided to take matters into my own hands and self publish my first novel Bridge of Memories. But will it prove to be a success or a failure in the end? I don’t really know. Statistically most books will fail, whether because of the author’s giving up on them or because it just wasn’t a good book, it doesn’t matter. What makes a successful author is someone who will continue to fight. Who will continue to write no matter what anyone says, and maybe you fail the first time out, but if you get up, if you continue to get back into the ring, then you can never really fail at anything.
One of the best quotes on failure, came from J.K. Rowling, my single greatest writing role model. In 2008, she spoke at a Harvard Commencement Speech in which she explained the benefits of failure:
“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” –J.K.Rowling
Thank you, AJ!
A high-strung, type-A personality, LGBT rights activist and twenty year old multi genre author, A.J.Race first found his love of books and writing with the Harry Potter series in 2001 after the first film came out in the fall of that same year. Growing up A.J. had not been much of a reader, in fact the first chapter book he’d ever read was at the behest of his fourth grade teacher, and it was in his fourth grade year that he really found a love for reading.
In 2002 he wrote a short story that at the time he had been convinced was an entire novel, and sent it off to a major publisher. This was his first experience with rejection.
Over the course of the next nine years A.J. experienced many rejections in his writing career. Then at the tail end of 2011 A.J. Rejoined NaNoWriMo.org (National Novel Writing Month) and in a matter of 30 days re-wrote one of his original novels: Bridge of Memories. In December of that year, one of his good friends offered to design for him a hand drawn cover while his former creative writing teacher offered to edit his book for him.
On February 12, 2012 the first novel in the Secrets of Witches Trilogy, Bridge of Memories was released to the public. AJ’s website is website www.cultofracewood.com. You can also read AJ’s interview and spotlight.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with romance, paranormal erotica and young adult author Linda Palmer – the five hundred and second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.