If You Don’t Succeed Is The Journey Worth It? Lessons From A Failed Novel

Over ten years ago I had a grand vision for a book series. I still do. I wrote the first book over and over again until I had about seven drafts. After much toil I decided to lay the book to rest. It was hard but it was time to move on.

Have you ever experienced this? Great expectations followed by severe disappointment?

I ask this not just to writers or artists but to anyone in any walk of life.

Often we have a grand vision for how something should go, but all we end up with is a horrible mess.

This prompts a question that can only come from retrospect.

Was the journey worth it?

Photo Credit: jimcrotty.com via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: jimcrotty.com via Compfight cc

Leaving with high hopes and coming up with nothing may seem like failure. Perhaps it is the Top Five Strength of Positivity shining through right now, but I firmly believe it doesn’t have to be this way. We can have fresh restarts and life giving lessons from these experiences.

Take my novel for instance. I worked for over a decade on it and poured hundreds of thousands of words and thousands of hours all for a novel that ends terribly.

But I learned that finishing well is important. That a book cannot end openly, even for a series. I had outstanding critiques and input from friends that shaped it in a beautiful way and learned about the joy of community that every writer needs.

Most of all, failure made me a better writer.

Now, I have a new project. One that has a solid ending, good characters, and a focused POV from the start.

And I wouldn’t have any of this if I didn’t go on the previous novel writing journey.

So I’ll let you decide. Was it worth it?

For Me, Failure Begins In The Morning

It starts as a whisper.

“Daddy, I need some orange juice.”

I look over to see my three year old daughter Clara trying to be politely quiet as she wakes me from my all too short slumber. It is then I realize that I hit either hit the snooze button or turned it off and I get up with her to watch Wild Kratts and snuggle.

I cherish my time with my kids but I kick myself for being too good intention-ed. I always mean to wake up earlier, which means, I meant to go to bed earlier. I can’t seem to choose either so I choose end up choosing neither.Sunrise

Jon Acuff writes in one of his books (Either Quitter or Start) that it is best to pursue your passion in the morning. I agree. But I also hate him for this.

When I write in the morning I carry the euphoric thrill of having chased my dream. This in turn fuels my day job. There have been many times that I am too mentally drained and plain tired from work to chase my dream at night. Then I make up some stupid mental agreement like – “Yeah but I’ll write 1000 words in the morning!” Which is usually followed by mental cursing because I read until 12:30am by accident.

All of this starts by not making my morning quiet time/writing time a priority. Thus a failure. But this constant failure and striving I hope to beat my body into submission where it is no longer a chore to rise early.

How do you create that writing time friend?

What tricks have you used to, er, trick yourself into your morning writing routine?

Until tomorrow morning…

Cheers,

Bob

The Best Way to Fail at Writing a Book

It happens often. Mostly when I am struggling with my novel and I read a magnificent work of fiction. I drop the book, my arms fall to my sides, and I stare at the ceiling knowing for certain that I will never lossy-page1-1024px-Moods,_President_Lyndon_B._Johnson,_Secretary_of_Defense_Robert_McNamara_in_Cabinet_Room_meeting_-_NARA_-_192612.tifbe that good.

Many of my writer friends have shared this same thought. We compare ourselves daily and when we read a gold trimmed version of our favorite classic we are overcome. I get the feeling you, dear writer, may also struggle with this.

Part of the problem is what I bring to the table. I was not educated in Oxford nor was I a war correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Spanish Civil War. My life experiences are dull in comparison. But this is not the problem. The problem is that I consider even for a moment that someone else’s life is better than the one I am living now. I forget that everyone has a tale, whether tragic or otherwise, to tell.

C.S. Lewis wrote C.S. Lewis Stories. Hemingway wrote the way only Hemingway could. I bring Bob Evenhouse’ experiences and thus tell a story the only way I know how. This is what I must remember. I must reach into myself and write out of who I am, just like you must do the same.

The world of literature would be boring if bookshelves were stuffed only with novels about Harry Potter or Baker Street.

Write your story.

Cheers,

Bob