In any case you mustn’t confuse a single failure with a final defeat.

― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Failure Can Lead To Unexpected Good Things

Failure is part of success. It is easy to find and easy to bathe in. It takes leaping into the unknown to get to the next place.

I once entered a poetry contest for Christianity Today, back when they hosted an area on AOL. I missed the deadline significantly. Failure? I took those poems and sent them to Decision Magazine. They bought one and I began a relationship with them that resulted in selling around 10 poems to them.

While Decision never published the poem that began this journey, they did publish many after it. That first submission led to a strong professional relationship with Amanda Knoke, my editor, and continued until she left for another organization and the magazine changed their format.

In the late 1990s, Decision was one of the great Christian magazines. They had well over a million readers. Their mission I supported. It was an honor more than a paycheck to be part of what they were doing.

Failure is not an option.
–creed at NASA’s Mission Control Center

Back in those days, I was still building my writing career. In many respects, I still am — no writer is done growing. But then, every dollar went straight into my costs: A dingy basement studio apartment, gas for my late model car, and chicken ramen for dinner. My lifestyle was a case study for a starving artist.

I needed every writing project I could get. Selling a poem wasn’t providing the biggest dent into my expenses but it dented just the same. You know the cliche, “Well, everything helps.” Everything did.

Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

Along the way, I wrote resumes, scripts for a trick bird act, newspaper ads for used cars. I edited insurance policies, designed newsletters, and worked in a grain elevator. I did what paid the bills, what let me write, and what let me move forward to the next day.

When I realized I had missed the Christianity Today deadline, I was mad at myself. I don’t remember what the prize was, but I believed I had a shot.

I worked hard to write well, and otherwise met their criteria for the contest. I neglected to know when that deadline was. I screwed up. Me. Ugh.

I could’ve kicked myself. Maybe I did. Of course it was frustrating. Better things were ahead and if I wallowed in my dismay, I never would’ve known.

Failure. No. We all screw up. Move on. Got it?

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