Failure and Hope

My daughter’s been working on a school project this week. It’s actually pretty cool: she has to make a board game based on the book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. She had a great idea for a game, but last night she hit a wall when she realized she’d drawn out the game board wrong. I completely understand the feeling of frustration and failure, I wanted to say. But instead, I told her that we had plenty of old cardboard boxes in the garage, and I went out and got one and cut out another game board for her.

Last year she had to create a unique invention as a school project, and it was really, really hard and caused a bit of family stress, but in the end, she finally found an invention that worked and that she was proud of. But it took a lot of talking it through, discarding ideas, feeling like a failure, and trial and error to get to that final product.

Yesterday I posted something on Facebook about school projects and learning about failure, and my friend posted this: We do not learn unless we fail. How true that is, and what a hard truth to face. No one wants to fail, do they?

A couple of months ago I sent out a batch of poems to a bunch of different literary journals. The rejections started rolling in. One journal accepted one poem, but other than that, I think that I have received rejections on all the other poems from all the other journals. It is particularly frustrating when I see a journal advertising open submissions on Twitter or Facebook when they have just rejected my piece. I even recently had an essay accepted (or so I thought) and then rejected! It’s a beautiful but fledgling journal, so it’s still getting its bearings.

Some days success seems so far down the tunnel that I can’t make it out anymore. 

But this week, today, right now, for a brief moment, hope has found me.

This week I guest posted for blogger Christiana Peterson, who is running a lovely series on what we can learn from young adult fiction. I wrote about the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. Though it’s not a Christian book, I was talking about what I learned about God’s will (or lack thereof?) from this series. If you like YA, go check it out. 

I also  had a short essay published at a beautiful website for women living overseas called Velvet Ashes. My essay is titled What I Learned From Thai Christmas Caroling and shares some cool holiday memories from my years as an MK.

I also had two bursts of good news today: I’ve had a poem accepted at Silver Birch Press and a poem accepted at Alliterati! Two acceptances in one day is definitely something to celebrate.

So I have a few gems to hold on to that will get me through my next bout of failure and rejections. I know they will come, and I know that this is simply a part of growing as a person and a writer. But I am learning not to fear failure so much anymore. Because it seems that right when I’ve lost my patience with it, hope shows up.



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  1. Christiana Peterson says:

    I understand rejection after rejection. It keeps us humble as writers, doesn’t it? Congrats on the acceptances…it makes those all the sweeter!

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