I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes people fail. Want more bad news? It is an acceptable option by many, myself included. This is not to say that you should always fail, or that failure is the best option, but even in the most extreme situations it helps to research into exactly what failure would mean for yourself and the situation. Failure might not be an even remotely considered option when it comes to war or brain surgery, but “I’m having a little trouble writing this book”, well, maybe you can bend the rules a little.
I find writer’s block to be almost crippling, especially emotionally. I can not even remember if I have ever talked about it on this blog, but it’s awful. I am absolutely not a Master & Commander (thanks, David Allen) of knowing how to make my fingers strike the keyboard and intelligence appear on the screen a letter at a time. I know I have the capacity to do it, and I can definitely tell when I am not doing it, but my choices for going from writer’s block to keyboard click noises is abysmal and is almost always resolved by happy accidents or just yelling at myself loud enough in the mirror that yes, I can do this, and I should just go (expletive deleted) do it.
But it is not always just that easy. Production is hard, on any level, but especially if you want it to exist at a standard that you feel is indicative of your own self-worth and abilities. So yes, I can come here every day (and I will mostly try to) and pump out a thousand or so words all I want and it really could just be an awful butchering of the human language. Or, I could come here and produce something that I think is actually of some kind of quality, even if I will always have some sort of self-doubt in play in the back of my mind. I honestly do not know what really quality writing is except that when I read it from someone else I can feel it in my soul. Those feelings are not around as often when I am typing away like a lunatic. There are many times in my life where I look inside myself and go “damn, I wrote a book once” and when I wrote that I did feel it in my soul but have been unable to replicate anything on that level since. In a way, I am living a slightly failed life.
I had dreams of being a successful book author, always pumping out long-form material and being famous and traveling the world and all the fun stuff that comes from being some renowned best seller, but I failed (for now, I guess….not important). I am not saying that I did not have words coming out of me, because I did, but I would always end up reading over my work and immediately being reminded of at least five other people who typed similar plots and character and everything else, and regardless of the fact that there are only like six original story ideas to ever exist, I can not stand feeling derivative of anything, even though I probably am even when I feel I am not. I’m probably stealing someone’s material right now and do not even know it. So book author is not really in my immediate attainable dream-scape anymore. It’s a puff of smoke and a Scooby Doo busted-wall outline. It ran away and fast.
I don’t want to make a long monologue on failure all about my problems in putting coherent storylines on paper. That isn’t what this is about at all. It was just that I came to a point where I realized that I had failed at capturing the magic I had when I finished my first project. I had failed and, looking back, I survived it. Going back to the aforementioned differences between this and brain surgery, yeah, it was never really a big deal if I did not write. Except that it was to me. It was (and still in some ways is) a huge deal if I can not get myself writing. There will always be missteps, sure, but that is where I really am beginning to figure things out.
Falling off the horse is fine, but if you never get back on the horse and ride it then you are simply just the guy that failed to ride a horse. I was unable to saddle up a decent fictional novel, but after some introspective thought and a little bit of personal therapy, I figured out that I could get back on the writing horse. I may never be a champion Steeple Chase rider or even a one-trick pony, but I at the very least know how to get back on the saddle when things get rocky and I’m thrown to the dirt. Instead of dwelling on the failure, or trying to force myself to not accept failure as an option, I have opened up a way back into the arena for another chance at glory. In this way, failure has become just another potential starting point for something that itself could fail or be the best thing my fingers have ever typed to the page. If I do not take that chance, I will never know.
I’m taking that chance. Failure is more than welcome to try and stop me.