So most of the people who read this blog know that I have written a novel; a novel that I feel is pretty darn good, maybe good enough to get published. The problem is, after submitting to numerous agents and editors, it hasn’t been picked up for representation or even consideration. I have spent the greater part of the last two years either rewriting the manuscript or bemoaning the fact that it hasn’t gotten any attention. Basically doing anything but picking myself up and moving on to the next novel, as a writer should. Now, two years after completing the first draft and several rewrites later, I think I have the distance from the work required to see what it truly is: my most brilliant failure.
Now don’t think I am getting down on myself or fishing for reassurance. This minor epiphany came as I was listening to a program about a Dutch organization called the Institute of Brilliant Failures. The group studies the effects of failure and bankruptcy on businesspeople. Most businesspeople, after going through the heartbreak and trauma of their crumbling dreams, give up on starting their own business and never try again. However, the Institute of Brilliant Failures has found that businesspeople who go through the collapse of their first business and persevere in the business world to start another venture are much more successful the second time around, having learned from the mistakes of their failure.
It was an amazing act of perseverance to simply write my first novel, and while writing it I was confident that it would be published right away. I learned so much as a writer during the five years I spent composing the story: about plot, character, and about my own writing process. I didn’t realize that when the writing stopped the learning continued. I think the greatest lesson my novel can teach me is to keep trying, to pick myself up and take a crack at another novel. It is possible that the best thing for my career as a novelist is not publishing my first manuscript, and I think the Institute of Brilliant Failures would agree.