Why I Belong in the Museum of Failure

I’m a failure.

“But Jon, you’ve come so far!” you say.

Sure. Check out my works published tab. I’ve got one novel out, one on the way in December. Lots of short stories in various places, and more coming out.

“How could you say you’re a failure?”

Easy. Do you have any idea how many rejections I’ve received? I have a document 72 pages long that list what stories I’ve submitted to various markets. Compared to how many times I’ve been published? Pfft. I’ve faced far, far more rejection.

A failure is someone or something that doesn’t succeed. And all those rejections? They tell me that I’ve not succeeded.

And that tells me I belong in the Museum of Failure.

Yes. It’s a real, traveling exhibit. Check out the link. There are some… interesting products in that museum.

But the museum is quick to point out, “Innovation and progress require an acceptance of failure.” If you’re going to create something new… you’re going to fail. If you’re going to try to sell something new… you’re going to fail.

That’s not because what you produce is bad. Well, maybe it is. Or maybe it’s a good idea that needs to be improved. But you’re going to miss more than you’re going to hit.

I’ve said it before: Writing is work. And really, it’s innovation. Or at least, it should be! When you write, you’re creating worlds out of words. And it’s risky. You might create a world that fails to come together. My “stories to work on” folder certainly holds more dead stories than ones I’ve finished. I’ve realized that maybe I didn’t know where I was going, or there wasn’t enough there to make a compelling story, or any number of other things.

And those failures do a number of things that help me as a writer.

  • It keeps me humble. I need to remember that I don’t produce gold. I’m not magic. I need to work to improve.
  • It teaches me where I need to improve. Why did this story not work?
  • It teaches me what will sell. Look, this may sound weird, but if you’re trying to make your living as a writer, it doesn’t matter how artistic you are. If your product doesn’t sell, you won’t make your living off of it.

So, yes. I am a failure. Sometimes it does get me down. But being a failure isn’t something to fear. It’s something to work through.

If you’re going to write, you need to get comfortable with the idea of failure. You’re going to face rejection. People will leave bad reviews because they just don’t get it. You’ll find that maybe you’re not as good as you thought you were.

But if you’re going to create, if you’re going to innovate, you need to risk it, work through it, and keep going.

Yeah. I have a lot of failures. But I also have a lot of successes. One don’t come without the other.

Let’s take the risk of failing. Innovate. Write. Create.

It’s worth it.

Published by Jon

Jon lives in Kentucky with his wife and an insanity of children. (A group of children is called an insanity. Trust me.)

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