Every writer I know keeps a space for the things to put on the wall. Or at least an e-corkboard of some description. Notes, images, inspiration, and accomplishments. Of failures too.
I have a wall. In 2020, it held a secret, one I didn’t see coming.
It’s a blue wall, it’s the only coloured wall in the room. It’s a dusky sea blue.
In the middle I hung a white board, and on it is the poem I wrote that started this writing journey. The Last Prophecy. It has the books that match the parts of the poem written beside it. It isn’t a guilt trip because I’m not currently working on that series (but I will be in 2021). Its encouragement and purpose for why I began in the first place.
Above, below, and to either side is pages upon pages of A4 paper. All covered in black texter.
Above is a single A4 piece of paper. It has my two contracts signed to Literary Wanderlust.
Underneath is a list of all my projects, and I put a tick next to the complete ones.
On the left, directly above my desk, as a reminder to keep doubt away, I put the year’s accomplishments. Not goals, just stuff I did. Like publishing Queen of Spades I & II. That a dev editor loved Echo of the Evercry, and Meg will never know how much her words still make me shake.
On the right is a single line of four quotes.
Never give up on a dream you aren’t willing to let die. ~ E. J. Dawson
Value yourself, so the world will value you. ~ Unknown
No one but you is allowed to dictate what you are worth. ~Anne with an E
There are no heroes in history. Only villains who told their story first. ~ E. J. Dawson
Above it is the goals. But they aren’t things I necessarily intend to succeed at. Just marking the attempt. I put books I query up there, competitions I enter, people in the industry I approach. Above those quotes I put building blocks of my progress. An ever increasing tower of possible success.
But towers crumble. Not every one is built to last.
Under the quotes are all my failures. When I think enough time is passed, two lines strike through, with a short note about what happened or what I think happened.
There are more A4 pages beneath the quotes than anywhere else on the wall.
Why, Ejay, why would you keep all those failures? Why remind yourself of all the times you didn’t succeed?
Because success is not made of what you think you accomplish or fail, its made of trying and not giving up.
THAT is what the A4 notes represent to me. So when I put the good things on the left side I feel accomplished. That when I look back at it I can say to myself I tried. I did my best, I followed my dreams.
And at the end of every year, I take them all down. The successes that aren’t beyond that year get filed away to pull out when I’m miserable, a reminder of the good things. Unfinished goals get retired to the failure or success pile depending on how far I got with them. The failures get moved down to make room for more failures. But they stay up there. They represent years of trying. There are… a lot of them.
When I pulled down the wall to prepare for 2021, one of them wasn’t a failure. It was an entry to a short story competition for a story previously rejected by a few magazines and competitions. But when I read the attempt, saw the two slashes to mark a failure, and noted the comment “no response” I realized with a delightful surge of giddiness I was wrong.
It took months to find out, and it wasn’t quite important to anyone, but I was a finalist in that competition. I got invited to submit other stories. They liked my voice and wanted more of it.
That failure was a success I hadn’t know at the time.
Imagine… for a moment, you feel like a failure. Imagine… for a moment, you were wrong.
That crumbling brick was forged anew. Solid, sturdy, something to stand on while I kept this inevitable climb. I reason to keep trying in 2021. This is why I keep the failures. This is why I don’t give up on people who say no to me. This is why I have a wall of my failures so when I look back I can see EVERY SINGLE TIME ANYONE SAID NO TO ME AND ALL I EVER OVERCAME.
Keep writing. You never know when that failure might be a success.