Managing Failure

Managing Failure

This post originally appeared on Almost an Author.

I’ve bumped into an old acquaintance again. It’s name is failure. Far too often I’ve kept company with this unwelcome guest.

Writers face rejection. It’s part of the experience. I need to remind myself of the nature of failure, and think about how to overcome the despondency it sometimes brings.

Failure is an opportunity to learn.

Growth isn’t easy.

In the midst of disappointment, it is difficult to see setbacks as opportunities. Missing the mark doesn’t feel like something to be happy about, but failure is one of the ways to learn and grow. If nothing else, the pain and suffering of failure illuminate the way not to go. It can be a gift, producing times of reflection and reevaluation, encouraging new approaches and different methods.  

Every challenge carries with it a risk of coming face to face with inadequacy, always an unpleasant proposition. But as much as failure hurts, stagnation would be unbearable.

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

C. S. Lewis

Failure is inevitable.

The thing about failure is, it always comes up. It does not need to be on a to-do list. It just happens.

Discouragement can seep in and hinder all of the best-laid plans, but it’s good to remember that there are bound to be bumps in the road to success. These encounters are no reason to stop trying. Failure may be inevitable, but it’s not fatal. It’s not even permanent unless it is allowed to be.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

Failure is a sign of courage.

It costs something to compete, to be vulnerable. Sometimes it costs a great deal. Be brave. Dare to dream, to create. Step outside of the comfort zone.

Failing to reach a goal only happens when risks are taken. An even bigger failure is to never try at all.

“The greatest glory and living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s okay to take a few moments to acknowledge the sting, as long as the setback is temporary. Get up. Try again.

There’s beauty in the persistent rising after defeat.

How do you encourage yourself after a failure? Leave a comment.

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My Writing Journey~Sometimes You Need a Story

 

My life is divided into before and after. I’m in the after now.

Eight years ago, this coming April, my world turned upside down. Eight years ago, this coming April, I began the slow journey back. I hadn’t written a book then. Since that time, I have finished penning three.

When I got sick, my daughter became frightened. Who wouldn’t be? It was the summer before her freshman year of high school, and she spent her vacation taking care of her mother who needed assistance walking and bathing. It didn’t matter what I told her, or how many reassurances were held out, she was terrified. All the soft gentle words and reassurances never made it past her fear wrapped worry.

Sometimes you need a story.

I wrote her a book about a girl who was afraid her mother would die and leave her alone. In the book, the mother does die. The girl is not left alone, however. She has family and unlikely heroes to depend on. I wrote my daughter a book to make her laugh and cry, but most of all to help her see she was not alone and it wasn’t up to her to save the world. I think maybe it was both comforting and uncomfortable for her to discover how much I understood her.

She’s not a character in a book, and she is not this character. But young girls everywhere get angry with their mothers, at times think they’ve been abandoned, and generally feel treated unfairly by life. They’re often surprised when they discover their mothers were once girls and understand all of these deeply held, secret feelings.

Among the pages of this made up place filled with pretend people my daughter finally understood what I was trying to tell her. She wasn’t alone.

Sometimes you need a story.

A funny thing happened. Out of the story, two more grew. Each of these novels stand alone, and while they don’t lean on each other, they do rub shoulders, exploring the lives of the various characters in the same fictional small Texas town.

It’s quite a surprise to find at the end of these eight years I have three complete novels. I’d freelanced in my former writing life, and even written a novella, which resides in the dark recesses of my computer files, but I’d never attempted a novel length work.

As my health improved and my responsibilities shifted, I had more time to write books. With each novel, I learned better and went back, refining and polishing. I hunted down critique partners and entered contests. I was quite pleased with the feedback I got. Now I’m ready to start querying agents.

I’m telling you this tale because, as with all of my stories, I want to encourage and bring hope to the reader. Because sometimes you need a story.

Donna Jo Stone writes YA contemporary novels about tough issues but always ends the stories with a note of hope. She blogs at donnajostone.com.

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Chasing Contentment

It happened again. I find myself in the same position. The position of discontentment.

When my bones rest easy, laughter fills the house, and the world is sparkly, it’s child’s play to wrap myself in contentment.

Before the race gets muddy with feet-bogging daily grime and I run slap into a mountain standing in my way, I’m doing all right. I can be content.

But when it gets hard I have to work at being content. It’s not one time accomplishment. Contentment is easier to misplace than my keys, my wallet, and that book of stamps that keeps walking off.

Contentment is elusive. Just about the time I’m thinking I’ve got this thing down, I finally learned my lesson, I slide back into the pit. I don’t notice it on the way down. I’m certain those around me do, but all my complaining and grumpiness is completely justified in my own eyes. It couldn’t be my fault.

It comes from wanting to much, from being unhappy with my destiny. It’s completely different than the inevitable failures that provoke and motivate me to strain toward the prize.

When contentment is lost, I gain nothing but a bad attitude. I forget all the blessings surrounding me. Simple pleasures are overlooked and I fail to recognize the joy I hold in my hands.

I forget to breathe.

I forget to see.

These spider  lilies came up in my front yard. They wouldn’t have bloomed if the grass had been cut regularly. Some people call them surprise lilies because you never know where or when they might come up.

 

 

Surprise lilies don’t need special tending. A person doesn’t have to do anything to be graced with these flowers except allow them to be.

I didn’t even notice the flowers in the front yard until one of my kids told me about them. When I glanced out of the window, it was obvious surprise lilies were making an appearance. You can see the red from some distance, lacey flags of scarlet demanding attention before the season turns and they sleep under the ground once more.

I wonder how many other simple pleasures I’ve missed because I’m too busy being discontented to count my blessings.

How do you keep contentment?

I need to remember who I am, and who I am not. Stop playing the comparison game.

I need to recapture my ability to take joy in the simple things. Moments of beauty are fragile. They are like iridescent soap bubbles, reflecting the light in rainbow promises of better things that live on the edges of our perception,hints of the greater things we cannot see at present. Moments of beauty fly on whatever breeze exposed to, delicately ethereal, meant to be enjoyed in a fleeting space of time.

 

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Because Words Change the World

Today I am guest hosting Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup. Do you have a link to share? Book reviews, writing, anything literacy related is welcome. Please share with us! 

How has literacy impacted your life? This is one of my answers.

I’d heard it often enough, and I knew it to be true. Words have power. A good speaker can motivate, a book open your mind to new possibilities, an essay expand your horizons. Even a small word of encouragement can keep one on course. I knew it and I believed it.

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I used words to try and talk to people. I asked and informed, explained and requested understanding. It was frustrating. Then I wrote a story. I wrote a story about my child’s day. I had no intention of having it published or really doing anything with it.  I need to make it clear that this was no earth shattering prose. It was only a simple, every day essay. The kind you would see on a mom blog.

I tucked my essay into my Bible study book. I don’t remember why the leader asked if anyone had anything to share, but I felt that nudge in my spirit. I ignored it. Speaking out was not my thing. She asked again. No one knew I had that sheet of paper in my book, about my frustration, or my writing. Then she asked again. By this time, people were looking around. I couldn’t read it out loud myself, so I handed it to her and asked her to read for me.

People cried. More than that, my son’s world changed because the story, a plain little story about a little boy who liked things all boys like, had drawn others into his world. So they made room for him in theirs.

There are journeys impossible to fathom unless you walk them, and battles only understood from an altered perspective. Story lets the reader experience connection. Our point of view shifts. Suddenly we can see something we never saw before. Perception becomes clear. Truth is revealed.

Words and story can open hearts. Words can build community. Sometimes, words can simply make a little boy feel accepted.

And the whole world changes.

Becasuewordschangetheworldspring-flower

 

 

Now it is time to linkup to Literacy Musing Mondays. This link up is for all bloggers who love to write anything literacy related such as essays about the love of reading and/or writing, book reviews, or posts about fun literacy activities. All family-friendly posts are welcome. 😉

 

Literacy Musing Mondays

Ashley from www.circlingthestory.com

Ashley @Circling the Story

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Mary @Maryandering Creatively

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Tami @ThisMomsDelight

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Last Week’s Top Clicked Post!

 

Mary’s book review of Warrior Chicks by Holly Wagner was the most clicked! She is so excited about everyone’s support! She loved this book so check out the review if you have not already done so.

Mary still wanted to feature a great literacy blogger this week; so, she selected the second most clicked post to feature: this wonderful post:

Books About Bears Your Preschooler Will Love

By Carolyn at House Full of Bookworms


Carolyn features some sweet books about bears. I love all of her selections! You don’t want to miss this one either. Plus, it really is worth it to visit Carolyn’s fun site!

You could be next to be featured! Remember, we try to make it worth your while to linkup with us by promoting your posts across our social media networks. We also pin your posts to our Pinterest Board!

Follow Mary Hill’s board Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup on Pinterest.

You will have until Saturdays at 12 p.m. now to link up! So come back often. :)

Literacy Musing Mondays

Linkup Rules:

  1. Include a link back or the blog hop button linked to this hop on your posts.
  2. Link up the urls to your posts not to your blog.
  3. Please remember this is a family-friendly linkup. We reserve the right to delete any posts that are not family friendly. We love all kinds of literature and genres including family-friendly inspirational romances, fantasy, or scifi. We do not welcome anything with excessive sexual content or cursing.
  4. Be sure to visit at least two other bloggers’ posts and share comment love! Remember it is also nice to follow them on their social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook
  5. Follow your hosts and co-hosts on their social media.
  6. Tweet about the link up too.

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4 Tips On How Not to Plan a Writing Retreat

#amwriting donnajostone.comI have had fair success at getting words on the current WIP flowing. Not all of those words are kept, mind you. But then that is the nature of a first draft.

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”Joyce Carol Oates

Committed to writing a certain amount on my novel in progress every day, I have decided to pretend this forced vacating of my home is a writer’s retreat. This fantasy would probably be easier to maintain if I had not brought my family, including our new puppy, along with me.

Tip #1 Don’t bring your kids or a puppy.

kayleeintroublesmall.

There are also the constant interruptions of new information about the home repairs which tend to get me sidetracked. The ongoing saga is a twisted version of a never ending story, reminding me of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.

Along the way to the discovery of where the moisture is coming from we found no leaks, but we did find out the home has what was referred to as “the pipe of the future” otherwise known as polybutylene pipe. This particular kind of pipe is no longer used because it is destined to fail. Check your pipes, peeps.

During the new water line installation, I was informed the hot water heater has been leaking. No word on the water damage from that yet.

After numerous consultations, it has been determined that the constant water collecting under the sinks is probably from condensation. This may be due to the vapor barrier being compromised when a neighbor’s dog got under the home. Or it could be because of improper site prep. They are working on it.

Tip #2 Leave your home problems at home and don’t answer calls.

Other issues will be dealt with as the summer progresses. The good news is, no mold in the walls as far as we can tell with mold kits and this handy snaking camera.

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Tip # 3 Don’t give up writing no matter what.

“Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”               Red Smith

Meanwhile, I will keep busy scribbling away on the book when I’m not enjoying myself poolside here at my writing retreat.

Tip #4 Don’t forget to find JOY in the journey.

#amwriting

How are you reaching your goals? What inspires you? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment.

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Am Writing| A Persistent Passion

#amwriting  donnajostone.comFor the last few weeks I have been displaced, my thoughts scattered by events and summer schedules. On top of all the chaos that is typical of the Stone Clan, I have not been feeling all that great.

Some days it is a challenge to write. Most days lately. But it’s not like I can NOT write. It is what I do.

But boy, doesn’t life intervene? I need to refocus on my goal and make the necessary adaptations.

I may have mentioned accountability before, but in the past I joined a group whose members are dedicated to write at least 500 words every day. Every. Single. Day.

For me, that means a minimum of 500 words on my novel draft in progress, no matter what.

I’m struggling with this. I know many people find it easy to write the first draft, but not me. I am primarily using voice to text on an old HP tablet. I have been informed on numerous occasions it is so old it’s obsolete, but I feel a certain kinship with it. It took forever for it to learn to translate my accent into recognizable English and it still makes mistakes.

I also tend to forget what it was I was saying if my device doesn’t translate well the first time. When I go back to read a section of indecipherable text regularly leaves me puzzled as to what I originally meant to write. For a  time, I wondered if I needed to plot more to solve that issue, but I don’t want to over plot.

It is harder for me to write fiction using speech to text than to write blog posts, emails, or letters with it. Have you found this to be true for you?

And then there is the obstacle of my own self. In my first middle grade novel, I could write the main character, Nina straight out of the chute. She is plain looking, snarky, emotional, and has a quirky family. My new MC, Trish, is different. She is a blonde ballerina who always tries to be the good girl. Hmmmm. We do share some issues. I will get past her looks and personality to dig them out. I may not be a ballerina, but I am exceedingly persistent and will find the real Trish under all those blonde locks.

coffeegrinder

I may have to let some things slide a bit, what with the current craziness, work on the book, house stuff, and taking care of the family. But my 500 daily words on the novel in progress is one of my anchors. I know this is what I am called to do.

#amwriting

What’s your calling? How are you managing to answer that call while juggling life?

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Finding Strength: Cipro Story

Strength is what I do not have.

Three years ago I had a reaction to a common antibiotic, Cipro. I was unable to walk or care for myself without assistance. I have improved, but recovery often seems like an unattainable dream.

I get discouraged. My strength has been stolen.

I miss things. Shopping with my daughter for prom dresses via text message is not the same.  I miss my family. I miss their moments and celebrations. You can’t hug when you are in different locations.

It is rare for my good days to coincide with days out. Struggling sucks the joy out. Thank goodness for online shopping. The UPS man probably thinks, “Lady, why don’t you make one big order a month already.”

During the past three years I have been occupied fighting my every day battles. On the counter right now I have several lidless containers because when I finally do get one open, the lid tends to slip away and land on the floor. You know what? Jars do fine with a bit of plastic wrap to cover the opening, and I planned on taking another vitamin tomorrow so it’s all right. However, someone really needs to pick up under the kitchen table.

The tendons and joints in my body often swell now, so any given day may be ice pack worthy. The amount of ace bandages make me look like a mummy at times. My downhill slide has been a bumpy one, with one thing following another. Challenges pop up as if falling were not already hard enough. I suppose if you’re going to go down, make it spectacular.

When I think about the physical grind it can seem like all I’ve done is shuffle along. Remember that Tim Conway old man skit? But during these three years I have had my Rocky Moments as well. Imagine that old man doing the fist pump to Gonna Fly Now. Yeah! That’s what I did the first time I managed handicap steps instead of a ramp. Go me!

I have my own speed now.

I fought a huge battle for my son, too much to get into here, but moms and dads know. Someone decided to get in the way of my child’s progress. Mistake. I fought for a year and it was one of the hardest battles I’ve ever been in. There were many prayers and tears. In the end we finally got his chance, what was rightfully his. Nothing was wrong with my voice. I made phone calls until I found a way.

He is running with that chance. Does it matter if his steps are a little slow at times? Nope. Cue Gonna Fly Now. We will fist pump together. Go son!

After I regained enough health, I completed writing two novels and started a third. Wow. I impressed myself. Sometimes I had to use speech to text. I thought I would never get Dragon trained. What a formatting mess. But words got onto the page.

I am sure the most eloquent prose ever spoken has been forever lost, mangled by my computer’s inability to master the southern accent.

The trick is to get words on paper by any means possible. Spiral notebooks were always in my bed so I could reach them. I learned to put them on their own pillow. Temperamental, they are.

I joined an accountability group and committed to a minimum of words written on my novel per day. Once you give yourself permission to take small steps and plod away you will be amazed at what you can do.

These accomplishments only came about through prayer and persistence.

Other good things of note happened these last three years. My middle son became a proud homeowner. The oldest is building a house, the youngest boy started college, and Baby Girl has found her calling.

It’s enough to make one dizzy, this fast crawl.

None of my strength comes from myself. It’s plain to see I have none. What I have is a destiny. And I have my own pace, even if it is a slow shuffle.

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None of my strength comes from myself . . .donnajostone.com on pink boxing gloves

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Take the Road to Dreams

No one else can live our dreams for us. To place what is in one’s heart, superimposing it on an another’s destiny, is a cowardly ambition. To allow people to use us in such a way is almost as bad.

Our dreams are our own. People will tell us that we are not good enough. They will say, “you are not an artist,” or “not educated enough,” or “the right kind,” and that they know better. They lie.

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You are beautifully and wonderfully made, complete with a destiny, a fire in the belly. It’s your job to stoke it, regardless of how many wet blankets come along oh-so-eager to smother.

Forget nurturing the tiny spark with gentleness, hiding from naysayers. Make the fire roar so they don’t have a chance to extinguish the flame.

Forget nurturing the tiny spark with gentleness, hiding from naysayers. Make the fire roar. (Tweet This)

Some people disrespect you because their eyes are too full of their own failures to see beyond the smallness of themselves. Don’t be them. Tend to your own vision. Do this and you will recognize the greatness in fellow travelers.

There is no need to push others aside, because the road prepared for you is your own. The obstacles there are your own as well. It is your job to take them on.

Do not go against what God has prepared for you. Figure out what you are here for and get to it. Dreams can be quiet and simple, but must be large to your own eyes. Dig around in your soul and find them. Understand the uniqueness of your calling. Understand the value of your deepest hopes and why they are imbedded in your being.

There are prizes you will never receive. Goals unreachable and impossible. They all look that way from where you are standing right now. No one can say with the slightest speck of certainty what dreams are within your reach.

No one can say with the slightest speck of certainty what dreams are within your reach. (Tweet This)

Passion and destiny collide. With all the tears and bloody bruising, it’s not always pretty. But it is always exquisite, your beautiful dream, big and gorgeously audacious in the middle of ambition and grit.

The joy is in the pursuit of destiny, not in trophies or glittery accolades.

This is how we live a dream.

What will you do with your dreams today?

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cat lion forget nuturing the tiny spark . . .make the fire roar donnajostone.com quote

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Growing Weary?

Do not grow weary.

I get weary. Who doesn’t? But lately I have been pondering growing weary. Not being weary, but growing it.

To grow something you have to feed it. Good or bad, growing things must have a source of light, water, and food. Conditions have to be right. Shelter from predators and inclement conditions must be provided.

I never considered the concept of growing weary like I grow other things like faith and patience. I can see how a person could feed weariness. Negative thoughts, listening to wrong people, forgetting Who is really in charge here, neglecting to recharge and encourage ourselves; all of these things help weariness thrive.

Our souls will always filled by something. Even when we say we are empty we are speaking of a feeling of darkness, despondency, or negativity. Our world is designed with no gaps, the spaces filling up as soon as there is an inch of available space. Something pushes in. Something grows.

To raise something we want, we cultivate, preparing the soil and digging as deep as future roots require. No shallow scraping out of a handful of dirt, the shovel digs deep. If the earth resists, we dampen with water, forcing softness out of stubbornness. We do this without taking affront. It is the nature of things.

It is also the nature within us that prompts us to prepare for a large thing, a deep thing. This is faith.

We loosen the earth, raking, grabbing handfuls of dirt and squeezing, breaking, understanding that the goodness will not give itself up to those who refuse to work. You have to be willing to get your hands dirty. You have to be willing to have faith.

Your faith must be large enough that you feed and water the plants and protect them constantly. Unguarded and neglected, they rarely produce. Even the strong, well established plants are no match for a sudden frost, or hungry caterpillars.

Except of course, for the never ending weeds. This is the battle. Plants that give us life, and plants that choke out those that give us sustenance.

We choose what we will grow.

Death and life. Build or destroy.

It is very easy to grow weariness if we succumb. It is a natural thing, like weeds. Something is going to flourish in every gap we leave open. There is no empty space.

No one intends to propagate weeds. They creep in when attention is elsewhere, taking advantage of every opportunity. Before you know it, they are tall and strong, arrogantly taking over the place if we let them.

A garden needs regular tending. A calling needs feeding.

Do not grow weary.

 

Watering Can A garden ... Do not grow weary quote donnastone,me

 

Today I will feed my soul with Truth and not grow weary. If I keep my focus on the tending of my destiny, refusing negative thoughts, weariness will have a much harder time taking hold.

Time to get my hands grit-under-the-nails dirty.

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Here and Now| When Five Minute Friday

Five minutes, no edits, one word.

 

When.

When is such a strange word. A nothing word. A word that looks both backwards and forwards but not at the here and now.

When I was younger, she says, I was so happy. I didn’t feel like I had to be someone I’m not. She mourns. Her eyes take in the old self of what she once was and no matter what I say, she cannot see the beauty of who she is. I say, you are still you, and she nods. There is no sparkle.

When I get in to my house, he says, and begins to tell of all the adventures and plans that will happen then. In his imagination of when he has already paid of a mortgage and saddled himself with more debt, buying things. In his future when there is not rust or rot. Then he will be happy, he thinks, when a shiny red pickup and a garden and fences and a hundred other things litter his paid for kingdom.

When school is done, the other one says, then I will get a job I like. His days will be spent on worthwhile pursuits and he will drink life and be satisfied, when that happens.

I used to dwell on the mountain top between the whens and never know it. Too busy looking backward and forwards I missed the view, the joy of being between the whens.

Today I do not think of the whens of the past or the future. Today I want to live in the now.

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Five Minute Friday, Titus 2 Tuesdays

 

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