Ever Feel Like a Failure?

When I first started this job, I was repeatedly surprised at how often it seems to bring a sense of failure. Whether or not I’m truly “failing,” it’s amazing how often I feel like I am.

I don’t sell every project I take on. I get rejection letters from editors every day. I can’t always meet everyone’s needs as quickly as I want to. I’ve taken on clients that weren’t a good fit and then lost those clients. I’ve made decisions I later realized were the wrong ones.

Yes, there are lot of daily successes, everything from selling a project, to helping a client solve a manuscript problem, to coming away from a contract negotiation feeling like everybody won. But human nature being what it is, I often feel like the failures overshadow the successes.

Awhile back I had a period where I was feeling the failure particularly acutely so I went searching the Internet for articles to help. Turns out, everyone and their brother has blogged about failure. And every successful person in history has a quote about it, too.

Hmm, wonder what that means? Clearly, everyone fails sometimes. But I needed a way to deal with it. How could all these articles and blog posts help me?

I read article after article and found that most of the wisdom on dealing with failure advises we do things that I was already doing instinctively. Things like:

~Reframe the failure and look at it as simply part of the process.

~Accept that any endeavor worth trying will involve some risk and experimentation, and hence, failure.

~Use every failure as an opportunity to reassess what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Figure out how to do it better next time.

~Realize that if you’re not failing sometimes, you may not be taking enough risks or pushing yourself hard enough.

~Just keep getting back up, knowing you’re smarter now than you were before the failure.

Here are the three quotes that have been most helpful to me:

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. ~Henry Ford
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas Edison
Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. ~Winston Churchill

They sound like platitudes until you’re in that place where you feel like an epic Loser … and suddenly they make sense.

Get back up. That’s really all you can do. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

What about you? How have you failed? What kind of wisdom has helped you deal with it?

© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Prestashop Theme on April 11, 2012 at 8:04 PM

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  2. Watch TV free on February 26, 2012 at 7:12 PM

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  3. Hauk IT - Web Consulting on October 2, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  4. Nikole Hahn on April 10, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    >Second guessing myself seems to have become a spiritual gift. I always feel as if what I am doing is not good enough.

  5. Bryce Daniels on April 7, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    >Good analogy, LeAnne. And if you ever need someone for the "human-curling" team, I'm your man.

  6. LeAnne Hardy on April 7, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    >I'm an adult figure skater as well as a writer. In skating, when you stop falling, you've stopped growing as a skater. Same in writing.

  7. Kelly Combs on April 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    >I once applied for a high level job. I was the #2 candidate, and they hired #1. About 1 year later I got a call back, #1 hadn't worked out. I got the job, and worked there 5 years, until the birth of my first child. The moral of the story is that just because THEY didn't think I was the best person for the job, did NOT mean I wasn't the best person for the job.

    While I try to always learn & grow from my failures, the bottom line is sometimes you don't get it, even tho you should. Writing, art, job interviews are all opinion based. So choose to that even if you aren't selected, you still may have been a good selection.

  8. Martha Randolph Carr on April 6, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    >It's a pleasure working with you on the new book and I'm learning as many positive things from the journey as I'm sure I will once it's sold. Wouldn't want to miss any of it.

  9. Amy Sorrells on April 6, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    >I feel like a squashed failure all the time. Especially when I play Scrabble. But really, it's just about finding 'piece' and trusting the right letter will come at precisely the right time. Even in the grand game of life. 🙂

  10. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) on April 5, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    >Oh, gosh, yes. I'm a person who works very hard at avoiding failure, sometimes to the detriment of my greater life.

    What helps, though, is personal history. I failed at several things that really mattered to me in the past. From the vantage point of another decade, I see how much those experiences enriched me. I'm a better parent, spouse and human being for having been humbled. I remind myself that when I learn to look at present-day failures differently, I'll see the value in them, too.

  11. Nicole on April 5, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    >Great topic, Rachelle! Here’s another favorite quote that gives me hope to keep fighting when the going gets tough. It’s by Teddy Roosevelt, and I think it’s good advice to live by no matter what side of the publishing table (or life table) you’re on:

    "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

  12. Leigh D'Ansey on April 5, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    >I've 'failed' times over. Keeping everything in perspective is my cure. So I fell down – did anyone die? was anyone permanently injured? does everyone hate me? Not so far. Just get up and keep going. I'm never sure what 'success' means because whenever we achieve something like it, we still want more.

  13. alisha on April 5, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    >I've been thinking a lot about failure this year too, not because I necessarily have been acutely feeling like one, but more from feeling the effects of our culture's obsession with success. There can be a lot of pressure to feel like a winner all the time! Sometimes I just think it's good to embrace failure and the beauty of imperfection for a second, and then get back on that horse and keep trying.

    I bought Natalie Goldberg's The Great Failure and am looking forward to reading it. Not sure if you came across it in your failure studies. 🙂

  14. salandrob1 on April 5, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    >This post speaks to me as a writer, a publisher, and a parent. My new book Parenting with Soul hits the shelves in two days and I'm feeling kind of vulnerable (as well as excited!). Thanks, Rachelle, for such a timely and eminently practical post.

  15. Anita Mellott on April 5, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    >You touched a chord with this post, Rachelle. As a homeschooling mom and a writer, some days feeling like I failed is my close companion. Other days, the fear of failing can paralyze me. I'm learning not to let that fear hold me back. If I don't try, I'll never know what might have been…or not.

  16. Anita Mellott on April 5, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    >You touched a chord with this post, Rachelle. As a homeschooling mom and a writer, some days feeling like I failed is my close companion. Other days, the fear of failing can paralyze me. I'm learning not to let that fear hold me back. If I don't try, I'll never know what might have been…or not.

  17. Sally Hepworth on April 5, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    >I have a sing-along in my car to Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive. Always makes me feel better

  18. V.V. Denman on April 5, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    >I am SO GLAD that my book didn't take off when I first began querying. Looking back, I now know that the manuscript was TERRIBLE. Yes, it was. Thank goodness I failed back then. Hopefully, when I'm ready to query again, the book will be ready for success. But the waiting stinks.

  19. Rachelle on April 5, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    >I've been away from the computer all day so I haven't been able to chime in to the comments, but I really love reading everyone's thoughts! I appreciate you sharing your stories, your disappointments, and your own words of encouragement.

    Judy (Watching the Game) — I love the baseball quote! It really helps put things in perspective.

  20. Shelli on April 5, 2011 at 4:15 PM

    >It seems like I only feel like a failure when it comes to parenting. Nothing else seems important enough to spark that feeling of not having done enough. The stakes are never so high as when you're responsible for another human being. I just keep on trying my best — and loving them tons, hoping that makes up for all my failures.

  21. Eileen Astels Watson on April 5, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    >I'm in loser mode right now so this post is a gift to me today!

    Thank you, Rachelle!

    I'm holding this quote from you close to me now. "Realize that if you're not failing sometimes, you may not be taking enough risks or pushing yourself hard enough."

    Onward I venture to get my words to mesh once more.

  22. Beth on April 5, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    >The problem with being human is that you have to deal with emotions such as the feelings of failure. Here is my solution:

    • Make a decision to stay on top of thoughts of failure by counting your blessings and think about the good instead of the bad.

    • Keep perspective. Your life is probably a million times better than some of the people on the planet. Be glad you're you.

    • Focus on what produces good in your life rather than what feels good. You'll end up okay in the end.

    : ) Beth

  23. Jana D on April 5, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    >One of the best managers I ever had taught us to "fail fast." Validate early on to make sure you don't waste energy on something that needs re-working, re-framing or a jet pack to zoom over the brick wall.

    I have failed to keep a promise to myself for the last three years to go to a conference. This year? Going! Write to Publish in Wheaton–woohoo!

    Thanks Rachelle for the encouragement.

  24. Chris Shaughness on April 5, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    >I quit a very lucrative career in information systems to start my own business working with animals. It was not profitable enough to support me (a failure?) yet through this experience, I learned so much that I now have one book published and three in the works. Yes, I could look back and say that my business was a failure but I'd rather see it as a learning experience that brought me to where I am today. My two heroes had several significant failures in their careers: Milton Hershey and Walt Disney. But they persevered and created empires and a lot of happiness for a ton of people! 🙂

  25. Loree Huebner on April 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    >I know everyone feels failure at one time or another…and we get up again.

    I read lots of good advice and inspiring words here today. Thanks for this post.

  26. Jackie on April 5, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    >Quote from a book I'm reading for Lent, Barefoot Disciple by Stephen Cherry:
    'No one learns to walk who does not learn how to try again after falling over'

  27. Laila Knight on April 5, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    >Everyone fails on occasion, especially in the writing world. It's part of the process. The thing is to not let it weigh you down. Never permit it to break you. I believe we can accomplish anything we set our hearts to.

    I hate failure as much as the next person. It does help to view it as an opportunity for growth. It can be a learning tool, a practice ground, an incentive to do things a little differently.

    Still, it is nice to know agents feel it too. …^-^…

  28. Julie Musil on April 5, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    >You know, it's good for writers to see we're not the only people who feel this way. Thanks so much for this inspirational post.

  29. watching the game on April 5, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    >I’ll borrow a page from America's favorite pastime. Failure is a huge part of what makes baseball so wondrous and beautiful. Any sports fans out there, here you go:

    “Baseball is a game of failure because the all-time highest career batting average, held by Ty Cobb, is .366. That means that arguably the greatest hitter in the history of the game succeeded in getting a hit only 36 percent of the times he stepped up to the plate…. Ricky Henderson, the career leader in stolen bases, was also thrown out more times than anyone else who's ever played the game.

    Baseball is a game of failure because as a pitcher, you are automatically given room for error; you only need to throw three strikes before you throw four balls in order to get somebody out….

    Baseball is a game of failure because most people are not strong enough inside themselves to play it. To even begin to understand the game you must not only be okay with failing, you must expect it, accept it, and even at times embrace it. If you step into a batter's box in fear of striking out…if you take the mound afraid to pitch inside…if you ever hope the ball doesn't get hit to you, do not play baseball because you will not stand a chance.

    Baseball is a game of failure because baseball is difficult–perhaps the most difficult sport one can play. Baseball players are the toughest athletes in the world. For they play a game they cannot beat. Instead they work to minimize their failure–they compete to fail at it less than their opponents. And while one man finds victory over another, the game of baseball always wins. We are all left humbled by the greatest sport on earth.”
    – Shaun Grantski, 2009
    Facebook http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=172203767300

  30. Katie Ganshert on April 5, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    >I don't know how a person can be in this industry and NOT feel like a failure at some point (or multiple points). Sheesh, everytime I hit "publish" on my blog, I worry it was an epic failure. I'm a sensitive soul.

    Failure is no fun – but I find it encouraging (in a weird way) that we all experience it – even editors and agents!

  31. Kelli on April 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    >I think my view falls under reframing. All the things we are successful at tend to become easy and unnoticeable as successes. We notice the failures because they stick out.

    I try to focus on the little things that I AM good at that I AM doing well with. I wasn't always good at those, and I'm always getting better. That makes the stats on success:failure look a lot better–and more realistic.

    It's important to keep up the batting average, but you have to really look at the batting average–not just the strikeouts, right?

  32. Lawrence J. Caldwell on April 5, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    >I just read and reviewed Andy Andrews' latest, "The Final Summit". Churchill is one of the characters in the book and has even more to say about failure. That book has me one step closer to overcoming.

  33. Choices on April 5, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    >This is such an uplifting post. I think we can learn from our failures, but sometimes it is hard to see the big picture at times. Once we pick ourselves up and start all over again, we can be successful.
    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.

  34. Jill on April 5, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    >I gave up writing this Lenten season, and God has changed my perspective on everything–failure, success, writing, what makes me whole as a person. Lent is LONG this year, too, so God has a long time to work with me. He keeps giving me little epiphanies, one after another.

    It's good to know that somebody like you, who seems to sell books left and right, feels like a failure. No, I'm not happy you feel that way, just good to know that those who appear to be successful experience the same feelings the rest of us do. Thanks for posting this. God bless.

  35. Andrew on April 5, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    >The best way to deal with failure is to encourage someone else, so here goes – to April, re her comment…

    Dear April – I think you're very, very brave. Most people, having that diagnosis (and a true rat of a boss) would run and hide.

    Not you! You sent out six query letters!

    Okay, those got turned down…but between the lines you have written I see six more, and then six more…until one will get a positive response.

    And between those lines I see a woman whose daily courage must stand as a beacon to her family and friends.

    May God be with you, April

  36. Nicole L Rivera on April 5, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    >I flunked out of law school. It was my first F and the first time I really felt like a huge failure. Then again I didn't really want to study law in the first place and I spent study week watching the then newly released Harry Potter 5 on DVD over and over while my roommate actually studied.

    I heard this quote somewhere: Fail forward.

    Essentially, fail and keep going. Don't stop to dwell just take the next step forward. Use every failure as a lesson in life.

  37. Melissa Ann Goodwin on April 5, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    >Thank you for sharing! And, the picture cracked me up, because my husband will say "I am such a loser," and do that L thing with finger and thumb on his forehead. Always makes me laugh. I dunno – the only time I feel like a failure is when I stop trying…

  38. Marion on April 5, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    >Rachelle & Bryce, Thanks for this wonderful post, & I love the 2 Churchill quotes too.
    April, You're not a failure. But IT'S OK to feel like a failure. Don't believe the self-help gurus (even Christian ones) who say you must be happy all the time. The way out of the darkness is through it–& maybe extra vitamins, acupuncture, etc.
    "Despaired of life itself." That's St. Paul. If he's allowed to feel that way, you can too. Look what he accomplished, anyway!–by God's grace.

  39. Melody on April 5, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    >"They sound like platitudes until you’re in that place where you feel like an epic Loser … and suddenly they make sense."

    I've been there! They're so cheesy…until you're there. I've tried to tell people how that is, that the "inspiring quotes" have real meaning, but it's not something you can tell someone. You just have to experience.

    Those are good quotes, by the way! 🙂 *saves*

  40. Madeline Mora-Summonte on April 5, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle!

    Every Monday on my blog, I post a motivational quote, whether it's about writing or about life in general. I hope it helps give others a little lift – I know it helps me. 🙂

  41. Cynthia Herron on April 5, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    >Rachelle, last summer I emailed you with some questions. You were so kind to respond. You were honest, transparent, and encouraging. You have such amazing gifts and talents. Thank you for sharing your insights and for being "real."
    April and Val: I'm praying for you today!

  42. Michelle DeRusha@Graceful on April 5, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    >Well this rings all too familiar…especially the rejection letter part. I wrote a humorous post about a time I failed in my writing career (one of many) today — we are on the same page with this topic!

  43. Stephanie Reed on April 5, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    >I figure God gets my attention through failure. I'm always more ready to listen after He's pruned away deadwood.

    I'm not much for inspirational quotes, but here's one I like:

    "Up from the ashes grow the roses of success."


  44. kathy taylor on April 5, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    >Thanks for telling us about receiving rejection letters from editors every day. It gives me more insight into your work and the resilience that each of us must develop.

  45. Leah Petersen on April 5, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    >Not that I've taken the time to look up the source or anything before I posted this, but I know I've heard before:

    Failure is an event, not a person.

    Works for me.

  46. Just Another Day in Paradise on April 5, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    >I deal with failure with a whole lot of prayer and faith. I know that I Am A Child of God!

  47. Alexis Grant on April 5, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    >Thanks for this, Rachelle. It seems to me that publishing has more ways of making folks feel like a failure than other industries! Not by any fault of its own; that's just the nature of the beast. Perhaps because it's more personal than other pursuits… I get nasty notes regularly from readers complaining about this or that in an article I wrote (plus lots of nice notes), but those easily roll off my back, I suppose because I'll write another article the next day, and have another opportunity to rock it. With a book, you've put SO much of your effort into ONE project that it can be difficult to take the rejections in stride.

    This is why it's so important to have a positive voice like you around!

  48. MJR on April 5, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    >I often feel like I've failed (with writing). I like what someone said in my Weight Watchers meeting: think feedback not failure. So if I'm not getting a response to query letters, I will rewrite it, change the title etc. Deep down I believe in my novel, but I have to pay attention to the feedback, too, in a way that helps me but doesn't crush my hopes about it.

  49. Val on April 5, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    >Hi Rachelle,
    I think I recognize you. No, not literally you, but the spirit of hope and optimism you spread.Let me explain.
    Not long ago I was prostrate on the ground with my face in the dirt of a gravel driveway. Bruises all over my body while I watched my just abducted five year old daughter disappear around the bend in the road. After nearly five years of abuse her father had finally kept his word and taken her away. That was failure. Failure to protect my child and failure to see this horror approaching. Many women I encountered from that moment on carried the same spirit of hope I mentioned above, the ability to be the reminder of the power and purpose of light in the darkest moments. They helped me through the shelters and to survive on the street. Ultimately they reassembled my soul with their love allowing me to stay together enough to recover my child.
    Because I've always been a writer I recorded every gritty emotional battle and each observation of those who lived in that gutter with me. As always, the words reminded me to keep breathing and to navigate the chaos. Later, after my baby and I returned home to safety, I took those words and I wove them together into a memoir of letters.

    I send out queries for this memoir nearly every single day. I get rejected at least once a week if not more. I keep querying. Why? I do it for the same reason I persevered through the above mentioned anguish: My daughter. I feel this is the only way to cope with the word no. You must have a noble reason, an inferno of an inspiration to keep you going. If not, defeat by default is certain and that is truly the only failure there is.

    I come here for the hope and optimism Rachelle, because on this earth that is in such short supply. Thank you for being a light keeper.

  50. Jaime Wright on April 5, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    >great encouragment on a day when I was feeling like my writing was NOT all that – but I won't stop … 🙂
    Thanks, Rachelle, for your faithful encouragment.

  51. C. E. Hart on April 5, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    >Thank you for a wonderfully encouraging post!

    Yes – I said encouraging, for all the quotes in the world (though many are fabulous) won't inspire us as much as knowing we are not alone.


  52. Lance Albury on April 5, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    >When I encounter numerous failures, I'm reminded that sometimes God wants to eliminate all options within my control so all that's left is to depend on Him.

  53. Laura Drake on April 5, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    >The quote that sustains me is from Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture) "Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough."

  54. Anonymous on April 5, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    >Thank you for this post. My favorite is a take on an old saw: Fall down six times, get up seven. Fall down a hundred times, get up a hundred and one.


  55. Olivia Newport on April 5, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    >Years ago I received news that an editor decided not to publish a work-for-hire project for which they had already paid me. They decided it was not up to snuff after all and were not inclined to ask me to rework. That felt like failure and dismissal. But a few months later, when that same editor put out a call for pitches on a new project, I jumped into the fray just to prove I could, and I got the assignment. This time I was more determined than ever to write something that sparkled. Growth as a writer comes from all sorts of places, even failure.

  56. Erica Vetsch on April 5, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    >What an encouraging post.

    Winston Churchill is a favorite historical figure of mine, and I love his quote.

  57. Kindred Heart Writers on April 5, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    >Still a little bleary-eyed (up late to finish a good book), I read "Get back up" as "Get back-up" as in "Get reinforcements." I laughed at myself, but quickly realized that's good advice, too. Hugs help!


  58. Sarah Thomas on April 5, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    >Thank you for being so open and honest! I think we ALL feel like this at times, it helps so much to know we're in it together. Hey, I figure God mentioned trials as often as He did becuase He knew we'd have plenty of them.

    James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

  59. Lunar Hine on April 5, 2011 at 7:59 AM

    >I am right in the sludge of that 'loser' feeling. Yuk. Words come out of me as easily as teeth and the process is just as excruciating. I've been focusing on my art for a bit to avoid these feelings, but maybe it's time I restarted scrabbling for a handhold on the wordsmith rockface.

  60. Peace, Lena and Happiness on April 5, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    >It's easy to feel like a failure in every part of my life, so I won't get into all that. But as a writer in the querying process, it's definitely difficult, and I have days when I just want to give up the whole thing and "get a real job."
    I try not to think of it as failure–that word is too strong. The hardest part isn't rejections, it's when I have days where I have no inspiration and I can't write anything. That's much scarier than a form rejection! Even if I never get published, I always want to be a writer. And the only way to 'fail' as a writer is to stop writing.

  61. Sherri on April 5, 2011 at 7:32 AM

    >Wow, do I feel like a failure right now. After four years and no sales, I finally made the decision to leave my agent. I wonder if I'm even meant to be a novelist like I thought. I wonder a lot of stuff, mostly to do with how terrible a writer I must be.

    And yet…I'm all right. It's an awful feeling, falling off my wooden horse so close to the brass ring, but no matter how crappy I feel about it right now, I know there is a future for me that involves writing in some form. Sometimes failure is just a nudge in the right direction.

  62. Joy Nicholas on April 5, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    >APRIL, my heart goes out to you!! Praying for you!! But please know that, to me, none of what you described sounds like failure on your part! With the writing, you tried! That's the toughest!!

    This post is (again, *sigh*) so perfectly timely. I think every time I get a rejection, it's hard not to see it as failure. And in the rest of my life, it's the same (my kids acting opposite to what I've been trying to teach them, for instance). I am reading Anne of Avonlea to my kids, though, and I have to add this Lowell quote from the very chapter we read last night to the great quotes above (love the Edison one especially): "Not failure but low aim is crime."

  63. Kristy K on April 5, 2011 at 6:56 AM

    >This may seem simplistic, but I try to tell myself that everything happens for a reason. All the failures in my life have turned out to be big opportunities for learning and growth and change.

    I may feel differently once I really start putting myself out there as a writer and the rejections start rolling in every day, but for now, this works.

  64. Ivana Watkins on April 5, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    >Someone once told me that it doesn't matter how many times we fail, but how many times we get up after the failure. I always try to keep that in mind. Also… whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I remember my grandma. She had an extremely hard life, but she lived it with a smile. Even when she was dying, she was the one comforting us. That gives me strength to go on. Thanks for this post.

  65. Wendy Paine Miller on April 5, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    >I’m going to Dr. Seuss this because that’ll make it fun to write.

    I feel it as a mom. I feel it as a writer.
    I feel it as a sister and when I give up as a fighter.
    I feel it in the morning. I feel it in the night.
    I feel it when I believe the lies and ignore the saving light.
    I feel it in my house. I feel it trapping a mouse.
    I feel it deep down. I feel it walking all over town.
    Having pervading thoughts like these is not what I’d call the bee’s knees.
    It’s wrong, I say, to feel this way.
    But I do it anyway.
    Because feeling is easy and fighting is not.
    But now that I know the truth, fighting’s all I’ve got.

    (I promise not to rap that little ditty. I just made my children very happy w/ that promise.)

    Now, time to guzzle tea.
    ~ Wendy

  66. Randall on April 5, 2011 at 6:19 AM

    >Great post. It is good to be reminded that we're all human. Too often I feel sorry for myself, as if I'm the only one struggling. Thank goodness for people like yourself to help all of us burst that bubble.

    To Erin Cole:
    Don't worry, your not alone at the cyber table. I've been there for a long time. I know a lot of people in my writing group that are great writers, but they're sitting there too! I just have to keep in mind Winston Churchill's immortal words "Never, never, never give up!" Keep moving forward. Your time will come!

  67. RobynBradley on April 5, 2011 at 5:50 AM

    >Great quotes. I'd add Samuel Beckett's classic to the mix: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

    And then, of course, there's always chocolate. 🙂

  68. Rick Barry on April 5, 2011 at 4:42 AM

    >It's so refreshing to see such transparency in a post. Thanks for being human, Rachelle. No quote here, but I do try to keep in mind that I'm simply one more example of an imperfect person born into an imperfect race. As much as I would like to be perfect, there are no vacancies on God's throne–I can't be Him in all his perfect glory. So, I will rejoice that He loves me despite my flaws and uses me anyway.

  69. Sharon A. Lavy on April 5, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    >Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. ~Henry Ford

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~Thomas Edison

    Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. ~Winston Churchill

    Great words to live by.


  70. Sharon A. Lavy on April 5, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    >~Realize that if you're not failing sometimes, you may not be taking enough risks or pushing yourself hard enough.

    That should be a smack up side the head for all of us.

    Thanks, Rachelle.

  71. Rosemary Gemmell on April 5, 2011 at 2:58 AM

    >I can't imagine that anyone has never failed at something. It's what we do with the failure that matters, although I guess it's slightly easier for those of a more optimistic nature to get up and start again. One of my favourite quotes is: 'The strong are strengthened by defeats' by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

    Or what about this very positive verse that was printed on a birthday card a kind person gave me many years ago. I always read it at the beginning of every new year (it would normally be set out in lines): 'Each day is a new beginning… another chance to learn more about ourselves, to care more about others, to laugh more than we did, to accomplish more than we thought we could, to be more than we were before.'

  72. writer jim on April 5, 2011 at 2:44 AM

    >TO APRIL:
    I am praying that God will quickly bring you relief, and your family restored health, and a better job, etc.
    I hope all other readers will do the same.
    Thanks to Racheal for showing her own feelings.

  73. Erin Cole on April 5, 2011 at 1:47 AM

    >It's not so much that I'm losing as it is that everyone else seems to be winning. I take rejection postively, knowing that my writing and that particular publication wasn't the best fit, but when people around you keep winning…when really, they shouldn't…makes one wonder how much of writing is really politics?

    I network, I study my craft, and yet, I'm still sitting at the cyber table alone.

  74. Tana Adams on April 5, 2011 at 1:13 AM

    >"~Reframe the failure and look at it as simply part of the process."

    Thank you for that. It heals acres of hurt, and puts things in perspective.

    Fantastic post.

  75. Marsha Young on April 5, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    >Failure – such a scary word – and an even scarier experience.

    But without ever experiencing it at all, would we even know how to appreciate success?

  76. Anonymous on April 5, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    I've never commented on your blog because I've always felt like a huge failure. Like reading agent's and publisher's blogs and writing advice were the only remnants of my pipe dream to be an author. Thank you for this post.

  77. Melissa on April 5, 2011 at 12:11 AM


    I trained as a concert pianist. Before my first season, I studied with a very formidable woman. “She of the Seven Fulbrights” terrified me. I made a stab at playing Schubert for her. Such a bad idea. My university instructor favored the French school, which encourages more equal hand balance, so I botched that ostinato in a big way. Formidable exclaimed, “When I see your left hand do that, I just want to smack it!” She then went on a vent about how I was “improperly trained.” I’d studied for seventeen years and adored my instructor at university, so it felt like one big NO FAIR! I promptly burst into tears. Formidable let me cry for a while. Then she passed me a hanky (smelled like mothballs) and quietly said, “It’s good that you cry, dear. It shows you care about the music.”

    I had to play Schubert (yuck) all summer. But at the end of it, I felt like far less of a failure. Sometimes when somebody busts your chops and makes you feel like a failure, it actually means they care about you enough to make you better at what you do.

    I get that now. ☺ (Still don’t like nor will I play Schubert.)

  78. Dawn Embers on April 4, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    >Get back up is good advice. I find it interesting how one quotation is that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. But if you change something slightly and keep going then consider the making of the light bulb. It took so many fails before one success but look where that one success has lead.

  79. Bryce Daniels on April 4, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    >Don't go it alone, April. Some people call it "need time," I call it "knee time." My best to you

  80. april on April 4, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    >These days I have felt like a total failure I was recently told I've lost 30% of the feeling and reflexes in my right arm and leg because of multiple sclerosis. That same week I given the option of be fired or quit because I missed over ten days of work while my son was in the hospital and sick. So I decided to send query letters to different agents and all 6 of them were not interested. I am reading happy quotes everyday I hope this helps my mood because as of right now I feel like a total failure

  81. The Writing Goddess on April 4, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    >I've come to see that true failure is not trying. I hope/plan to be published someday, but if that doesn't happen, I won't be on my deathbed saying, "Gee, I wish I'd given it a shot." I'll be saying, "I did the best I could, and I feel pretty good about that."

    It wasn't till I was in my twenties, oddly enough, that I first heard about the concept of REwriting. Until then, I'd thought that all the great authors simply said down and write masterpieces from the first dip of the quill into the inkpot. When I found that they changed, deleted, and switched things around in their work, I realized, I can do that!

  82. Aimee L Salter on April 4, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    >This whole writing jag is full of obstacles that could be perceived as 'failure'… but I'm reminded of a conversation I once had with a very wise woman about relationships:

    It only has to work once.

    Or, in the writer world: everyone says no until someone says yes.

    And then you're a success.

    "Failure" is actually just the learning curve.

  83. Bryce Daniels on April 4, 2011 at 11:22 PM


    Beautiful post! And one that each of us, regardless of our calling in life, would be well served to remember and follow.

    I found it interesting that you quoted Churchill. One of my favorite stories involves him giving a commencement address. He is introduced, all eyes are fixated on this leader of the free world as he is about to speak, and all he says are seven words. "Never, never, never, never, never give up." Then he sits down without saying another word. Powerful stuff.
    I try to remember that in my work, my family life, and my walk with God. Again thank-you for the positive words!

  84. Jennifer on April 4, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    >This was a timely post for me. It seems like for every success as a writer, it is followed by doubt and uncertainty about the process which is basically regular assessments of your talents by people who you don't know. When the process is slow or comes to a standstill, there is a powerlessness that is quickly followed by a sense of failure. I'm not sure why. Thanks for the post– some attitude adjustments might be in order.