This is a readdress, a revisit, of an older post of mine. When I wrote it, I said I was about to head into the query process again. You know, where you write that query letter and cold send it to all those people called agents and cross your fingers and fidget and hope. Erm… didn’t quite make it there, though. The book wasn’t ready yet. I jump the gun a lot. You probably know that by now.
A couple weeks ago, fresh off a pretty successful college semester, I decided to rebrand the blog. Because I’d been writing about writing. Sharing a little writing, sure, but not nearly enough — and I hadn’t been writing about all the subjects close to my heart.
It was time for a change. Voyage of the Mind was born.
All of a sudden, about a week and a half into the rebranded blog, readership seemed to double overnight. Well, awesome, but it kinda caught me off guard because it flew in the face of a lot of what I knew — that blogs grow slowly, not overnight. So I started thinking it was probably a fluke. It’s not, I don’t think. And I’m so grateful for all of the people who are reading and enjoying my content. If you want to read more about how grateful I am, check out this post here. I’m not going to bog down this one, which is about failure, with gratitude.
Another thing that confused me was that you, my readers, were flocking to read my poetry. Uh, hey, I’m not a poet! Or, at least, I’ve never considered myself one. But, heck, I write poetry, so that must make me a poet. Now I even show people my poetry. (Shameless plug: You can read my poem “Quartet” here.)
Poetry is something I’ve always enjoyed writing, but until very recently I was too petrified to share any of it with the world.
My breakthrough, when I really think about it, came through the daily #vss365 prompts on Twitter. I began writing more and more poetry for them, instead of prose. And… practice helps! All of a sudden, I had ideas for poems. I began writing poems. And one day I said (pardon my French), “Fuck it, I’ll just post one.” It was a runaway hit.
So if you’ve been enjoying the poems, you’ll be seeing more of them. I promise!
I’m afraid of failure, of losing the small corner of the Internet I’m occupying now. I’m afraid I might wake up one day and realize that no one wants to hear what I’m saying. That no one cares.
But more than any of that, I’m afraid of being voiceless.
Everyone should fear voicelessness. We live in a big, busy world that seems to conduct itself at fever pitch these days. It’s become more and more difficult for people to find their way, their place within it all. Many people have become deeply unhappy as a result.
I reached a point in my life, once, where I knew if I didn’t get any happier, life wouldn’t be worth living. So I dug into myself to find the things that would make me happy. I excavated pieces of my soul. I stared into the fog, trying to discern the future. And I came back to the surface, gasping for air, with words in my hands. I’d always had them. They’d always been with me.
I got my start writing seriously when I was in fifth grade. You can read more about how in This is Not a Sad Story, Episode Three.
For many years of my life, I counted myself a failure. I wasn’t doing anything that made me happy. I wasn’t doing anything that made others happy. What could I be, other than a failure? Looking back, I think I was too hard on myself. I was young. I had a long road in front of me. But I didn’t realize it then, and I don’t realize it now. I’m still too hard on myself. I suffer from two things that go hand in hand: relentless ambition for success, and a relentless fear of failure. No matter what I do, one always tries to outrun the other. The two feed off each other. It’s as if I’m cannibalizing myself.
But at some point along the line, I realized I feel best when I never sit still.
How to live life? Isn’t that the big question? Move, move, move. Keep moving, keep doing. Do what you think is right. Do what you love. Do what you need to do to keep yourself happy. At the end of the day, life is short. Protect yourself and what you love. Live life happy. It’s all you can do.
In the fall…
I should be heading back to college. But I might take a gap year, to focus on my book Blue and White and to be on the blog, here, and on YouTube. I’ve given myself two months to decide. That way, I’ll be able to plan. It’s a big decision. It deserves a lot of thought.
My parents won’t be pleased.
And I’ll be scared. Because with a whole year to play with, I feel like some success might be in store. But who can know the future? I know that the fear of failure will keep dogging me. I’ll keep moving, keep writing, keep doing, keep living, keep on keeping on because these are the only things I know.
How to handle the fear of failure
Or, my quick guide to success.
- Define what success means to you. Some people really want money. Others couldn’t give a shit about it. What does success mean to you?
- Figure out what you love in life and what you’re good at. If you love something, but aren’t good at it yet, work at it until you are. It took me ten years, but I’m standing here today. I can write. If you practice writing every day for ten years (and read a lot too), you’ll also become a good writer. I guarantee it.
- Decide what’s realistic. Maybe you love basketball and are good at it. That doesn’t mean you’re going to make the NBA. But could you coach high school basketball or become a physical therapist? Heck yeah!
- Make an action plan. List out the steps you’ll need in order to succeed. Then follow them.
- Make a leap of faith and pretend you’re fearless.
No one’s fearless, okay? It’s a myth. Even people like me, who have virtually no physical fears (because they’ve conquered the ones they used to have, and not necessarily for a good reason — it’s because those fears made them feel weak), have these horrible, sword-over-the-head existential fears.
But you can appear pretty darn fearless by learning to be brave.
I’m challenging you, fellow travelers on this Voyage of the Mind. Find your passion and follow it. Face up failure. Be bold!