Giving Myself Permission to Fail

Posted: April 10, 2019 in Writing

Manual typewriter and screwed up paper

I’ve been absent for awhile, because I haven’t had anything new to say.  It’s taken me awhile to realize that that’s a problem.

It’s not that I have some hubristic need to spout my “wisdom” to the unsuspecting world on a weekly basis.  The simple fact is, I find writing a blog to be personally useful; it helps me hone my chops, focus my ideas, and clarify my thoughts by forcing me to express them to an audience.  But my first rule has always been to only post things I think will be interesting or instructive to the children’s writing community at-large. About a year ago I reached a point where I had no new useful thing to talk about with regard to my manuscript and my drive to find an agent.

That should have bothered me.

It took me a whole year to realize the problem: I had refused to give up on my dream.  Why is that a problem?  Because I didn’t have room or permission to move on.

Early on I made a commitment to myself to do everything possible to see my MG book, Princess Material, traditionally published.  “Never give up! Never surrender!” And for four years I queried, entered contests, engaged critique partners, and hired professional editors.  The manuscript and query letter steadily improved.  But after over 100 rejections, I have been forced to consider that there is something fundamentally flawed about that book (or it’s just not a good fit for the current market), and no amount of tweaking or polishing will make it right.

And that gave me the opening I needed to refocus my attention on a new project.  I had started a sequel to Princess Material, but part of my evolving attitude about it included the realization that there was no point in writing a sequel to a book that nobody was ever going to read.  So I needed a new project.

Ideas I had.  Even an entire outline.  But until I gave myself permission to put my first book aside, I didn’t have the bandwidth to really focus on an entirely new project (I seem to be a one-book-at-a-time kind of guy).

Notice I didn’t say I had given up on my dreams.  To become a published author, to see my book on a retail shelf, to start a second career as a children’s author.  I have not given up on those.  And I haven’t entirely given up on the dream of getting my first book out there.  But for right now, I have given myself permission to put that particular dream aside so that I can chase a new dream.  It’s a whole lot like the first, but it means starting over with a new book.  Not completely over, of course.  I have gained tons of experience and wisdom over the last four years, which I will make liberal use of going forward.  I will be scrolling back through this blog and revisiting posts from the early days of writing my first novel.  And I will be chronicling this new journey here.  Stay tuned for details of my new project, and maybe a bit about some of the ideas I had along the way.  If you haven’t already, please subscribe.  I expect to be posting here every week, just like before.

  1. Amira says:

    Congrats on taking this difficult step 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. derricodenise says:

    I was honored to be one of your beta readers when it was called the Last Princess. [Homework scene in the intro.] I liked it a lot and you continue to inspire me. I am revising too, I just got a new coach at draft 9.75. The story has been with me 15 years but I put it down to raise my kids and only picked it up again a couple years ago. But the query market is saturated. Godspeed to you


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