Monday, May 3, 2010

Motivational Monday - on failure

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, this time more wisely. - Anonymous

I love this quote. LOVE IT.

I only recently found it, and I wish I had seen it a few months ago.

It says to me - the path you were on wasn't quite right. Find a new one. And go.

Before I sold my latest YA, THE DAY BEFORE, I had written a proposal and some sample pages and thought that might be my next YA book. It had a great hook, an interesting premise, and a beautiful title.

But it was turned down. 

I then sent my editor another idea I had for a book.

She replied, telling me why she didn't think it would work well.

So yeah, turned down again.

About that time, I started to wonder if maybe I was washed up. I know, you're going - after only two rejections? Remember, the editor I had worked with on my first three novels was no longer in publishing. On top of that, the market is ten times more competitive today than when I sold my first novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. It's tough out there. Really, really tough. 

Anyway, I let myself feel bad for about a week. And then, something happened. I heard Pink sing "Glitter in the Air" on the Grammy Awards show, and it ignited something inside of me. Listening to the song made me want to write a story I had just a seed of an idea for. So after worrying about whether I should or shouldn't, and what elements the story should or shouldn't contain, I finally sat down and started writing. I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. Somewhere along the way, my agent checked in, to see how I was doing. I'm writing, I said. Do you want me to read pages, she asked. No, I said. Not yet. 

I just kept writing. 
And writing.
And writing.

All the way to the end.

The failure had given me an opportunity to begin again. I took it. And I ran with it. I wrote a book that I'm proud of. The other book, the one with the great hook, an interesting premise, and a beautiful title? Guess what? That was me trying to be someone else - someone I'm really not -  in this extremely competitive market. I'm so thankful now that the book got rejected.

We have to remember that sometimes we can't always see what's ahead. But we should remember that with failure always comes the opportunity to begin again. To try a new path. And that's really such a beautiful thing. 


  1. Great Post--and SUCH a wonderful reminder. (Also, I missed the Glitter in the Air performance--youtubing that right now). Thank you so much for always sharing your triumphs AND failures so honestly. You really are a huge inspiration! :)

  2. What a great quote. I am going to make it part of my mantra, right along with: if you make an effort, you will not fail.

    And thanks for sharing your story. So easy to follow the "rules": great hook, intriguing premise, etc. and lose sight of what we really need to write.

  3. I get chills watching that performance, Shannon. You will love it!

    Yat-Yee - Yes, it IS easy to lose sight of what we write, or what's best for ourselves to write. There are lessons to be learned everyday in this business, it seems.

  4. What an awesome post! It's so tempting to try to be what we think people want us to be. This is a great reminder to stay true to yourself. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. You are just such a beautiful person, Lisa. All of your words are unbelievably inspiring. I cannot wait to read The Day Before.

  6. Thanks Sherrie and Robby, for your kind words.

  7. Thank you for the reminder to be ourselves and to never stop trying. I keep telling my kids we learn more from our failures than our successes. Hard lessons but vital.

  8. Nelsa, what a great mother you are!! :)

  9. Good for you for listening to the "nos" and turning that critical feedback into something that you can be proud of. Can't wait to read your work!

  10. It's always humbling and a little frightening to realize what we wanted so badly would have led to disaster. Thank heavens our plans are thwarted sometimes!