WEEK 36 - Five (5) "Failures" I’ve Had So Far This Year

Week 36 and the middle of September and recent conversations and happenings have inspired me to talk about something poignant - Failure.

Week 36 and the middle of September. Usually, the week after my updates from the Library of Exchanges / JewelVerse would be a listicle. However, recent conversations and happenings have inspired me to talk about something rather poignant but also rather important, at least on a mindset basis:


(and perhaps, a bit on why I want to talk about it)

NOTE: Before continuing, I know the word “failure” has a lot of connotations and that some of the following points are not really failures. However, I am sharing this on the definition that a failure is when something planned did not go through. So all the following incidents are just things that were planned but did not go through as planned or went through but did not achieve the desired outcome.

So here are the five (5) major failures I’ve had so far this year: 

01: Putting “The Saccharine Vote” on hold and thus, not submitting it for EBFP

For the background, I did an issue on this earlier

However, if I did push through and actually finished the manuscript for the sake of it, I would have something to shop around with. That said, I’m grateful for coming to this conclusion - ‘The Saccharine Vote’ will happen, but it will need time to redevelop into the greater scheme of the multiverse. 

02: Not getting the Madeleine Milburn Mentorship

Background: The Madeleine Milburn Agency is a literary and entertainment rights agency based in the United Kingdom and it seems like they do have an annual (at least for last and this year) mentorship where selected mentees get to learn about editorial construction, pitching, and publishing their work. Mentees also get representation. 

I saw the open call to the mentorship last year (2020) and tried. And didn’t get it. Out of curiosity and with a new novel (work-in-progress, at least), I tried again this year and didn’t get it as well. It’s a bit disappointing, especially with the opportunities that come with actually getting the mentorship. However, upwards and onwards! 

What is failure to you? If you’re fine with it, you can share them in the comments!

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03: Pulping copies of books returned by our distributor

One of the things we don’t talk about when you publish independently, is how you need to handle the storage of unsold books on your own. And that also means that even if you are with a distributor, there’s also the possibility that they will ask to return your books if sales aren’t moving after a certain period of time or after your contract has ended. With space constraints, we made the decision to pulp the majority of books still left with our distributor. 

While we don’t necessarily see this as a failure, it did “fail” to sell enough to justify further storage. So there.

04: Not prototyping my Masters Thesis 

Background: I did a Capstone Project for my Masters Thesis about the feasibility of a programme or a consultancy that could aid in the career development and sustainability for independent authors in Singapore. While I do say authors, I was hoping that this could extend to the creative scene in general. 

I’ve graduated for more than a year now and I am nowhere close to even revising my thesis, much less prototyping it. So what’s next? Making plans for it soon!

05: Not setting up my Buy Me A Coffee / Patreon

Background: Setting up one of these has always been in the back of my mind but I had a lot of hesitations about this - what if I cannot keep up with content uploads? What if I really cannot cope? 

And thus, another year or so goes by despite massive plans to start one as a stepping stone to my creative business. Will the end of this year (and the circumstances that are ripe for new creative business innovations) be enough to push for this to happen? I believe I’ll have to see how things go. That said, this is starting to become a non-negotiable. It will happen, it’s just a matter of when. 


Why Talk About This?

It’s often that we hear, “failure is not an option”, “it’s difficult to fail”, or “you’re going to fail anyway, why do it?”, and this can result in many of us viewing failure as something to be avoided as much as possible, even “at all costs”. The irony of this, I’ve learnt, is how you’re more likely to fail at reaching your goal when you actually try to avoid failure at all costs.

So what can we do about it? My contribution to the table is to aid in creating an environment where it’s okay to talk about our failures without judgement, so that we can actually learn and improve (on our terms, not anyone else’s). If we’re going to treat failure as something to be ashamed about, how are we going to improve collectively? 

Fear of failure is often paired with the fear of something else - what is it for you? Fear of losing face? Fear of becoming desolate? Fear of losing people? All of these are legitimate fears. At the same time, if it’s something you’re going to regret not doing (i.e. continue trying to finish that knitting project you put off, organise that solo retreat), will you be looking at a way to handle these fears? 

Therefore, I think I’ll end this issue with something I wrote (and forgot until recently) in an independently-published collection I released a couple of years back - “For some people, failure is disappointment. For others, failure is their learning point. And for a few, failure is only the beginning.”   


And that’s it from me, see you all next week!

How do you face “failures”? Especially with “rejection” or “failure” with something you are highly passionate about? If you’d like and/or are willing, let me know how you worked through them!

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