Let’s try that again

Ha! Sorry, I was trying to post from my ipad, and well, apparently, I failed. Oh, the irony.

Anyway, as I was saying….here is that original post.

I’m at a really wonderful writers conference this weekend (Moonlight and Magnolias, held by the Georgia Romance Writers association) and it has me thinking about, of all things, failure. And it also has me thinking about bravery, two things that are inexorably (boy, I hope I’m using that word right) linked.

When I’m sitting across from a writer who is pitching their book to me, I’m often feeling a little overwhelmed and a little bit overtired. A conference is an intense experience for everyone, writers and agents alike. But here’s what i want you to know: when I’m sitting there I’m also thinking about how brave I think you are and how much I admire you for taking a chance and telling me about the book that is, after all, your heart and soul. It takes real guts to expose yourself like that. Being a writer is so personal that trying to “make it” really does require so much more courage than other professions.

What’s really brave is that you’re doing this even though chances are high that you’re going to fail. Now, let’s qualify this: we are all going to fail. We will fail in our careers, we will fail as parents, as friends, as spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends. And if you’re reading this, you’re going to fail as a writer. (And by the way, don’t forget that I will also sometimes fail as an agent.) What this means is that when you’re sitting across from me you’re bravely embracing your failure. You’re acknowledging that it will happen and you’re steeling yourself to move on. For at the other side of failure lies lessons learned. And lessons learned are the only authentic way to success.

So be brave. Fail. Try again. Succeed. Rinse and repeat.

And I’ll see you across the pitching table some day soon….

Jenny's posts

27 Responses to Let’s try that again

  1. Travis Erwin says:

    As a writer who has been pitching a while both face to face and via email I found this post very uplifting.

  2. Well said, Jenny. A failure is only a failure if you fail to learn from it. Go ahead! Try. And if you fail, try again. Some people fear failing so they never try at all. That's so sad. I love that you recognize and appreciate the bravery the person across from you has. And I admire you for recognizing your own shortcomings and willingness to learn, too. Good job kiddo!

  3. Leona says:

    Well written. It's nice to know that agents understand this as well as you say. I sent out 10+ queries then did a workshop. Found out my word count was way to low unless I was targeting Harlequin. Well, I was. Their blaze line. I would never have found out to include that bit of info in my query if I had simply quit after that. Learning from failures is the only thing that makes it bearable for me.

    Thanks for another inspirational post!

  4. McKoala says:

    I believe in learning from mistakes – every failure has the potential to turn into a success one day.

  5. Karen says:

    Excellent post. Everything in life happens for a reason; to help us grow as a person. The best way we learn is through our failures. 🙂

  6. ramblinbess says:

    Agreed! What's so hard, besides getting past your ego, is the very real work of making changes that will result in successes. Sometimes I just don't want to do the work I know on some level I need to do to make my writing better. Other times, I don't know how yet. Even though I hope we'll all eventually succeed in the way we want, it's probably true that many of us will succeed in another way.

  7. Robin says:

    And I cried. So glad you are mine. xoxo
    Jenny + Robin= 2getha 4 evah. Seriously needed that.

  8. Bethany C. says:

    I've been rinsing & repeating so long I'm pruning!

    Thanks for another great post, Jenny!

  9. Dawn says:

    What an uplifting and wonderful post. Thank you.

  10. erikarobuck says:

    How kind of you to say this. I read a lot of agent blogs where the predominant emotion agents seem to feel about authors is "annoyed." You are a lovely person.

  11. Julie Musil says:

    Love this! Thanks for the encouraging words.

  12. What a wonderful post.

    I'm having one of those weeks when it feels like I can't write anymore.

    It's not that I've failed or been rejected or think my writing is not worthy. I know that these aren't really indicators for a writer, just common experiences.

    Its that I am not sure I can continue to do this, and live the rest of life in front of me right now. Too many demands, too much stress.

    I know a lot of great books were written under tremendous pressure. I'm not alone. But I have to find my own way through the mess.

    Thanks for your encouraging words.

  13. Susan says:

    We wouldn't recognize success had we not experienced failure.

    I have the best success story from my teenage years. I'll spare all of you for the moment.

    It's really a great story.

  14. Claire Dawn says:

    Nice concept. I hope to be across from you someday too. 🙂

  15. At my grandfather's funeral, my dad's cousins partner (don't you love titles like that!) told me about his friend that he grew up with who wanted to be a writer. He said at the time everyone kind of worried about him, thought maybe he should get on with his life… But, he didn't, he kept at it. The man's name was John Irving.

    What a lovely story for a funeral. It sticks with me during the dark times of the publishing journey. For me, I know it'll come around. I just with I knew when.

  16. What an encouraging post. I loved it.

  17. We loved having you at M & M! Your graciousness was apparent. IMHO, failure is inevitable. It's a sign of progress. It's how we choose to react to that failure that determines more of our future than a one time rejection ever will.

  18. Eric Martin says:

    Loved this post. I am 21 and have rinsed and repeat as you said. Everyday the mail has another rejection, my email has another, "Thanks, but no thanks," and yet I keep sending out my query letters. I know my story can affect others just as this post did. Attempting suicide is not something I am proud of; however, as this post says you can't be afraid of failure. Hell- I'm still here because I failed. http://www.wintersbloom.com/

  19. Megan says:

    This really encouraged me to send a query to you guys! Thanks so much, Jenny!

  20. Hi Jenny. I was lucky enough to be at M&M and pitch to you. I had no idea you were thinking I was brave, but you did put me at ease. I was more comfortable than I have ever been pitching live. Thank you for that. And thanks for sharing some very encouraging words.

  21. Pitching is like a blind date. Odds are he's going to have a comb over. Or those super bright bleached teeth and a fake tan. Or be so ridiculously hot you make an ass out of yourself. Chances are this is going to be so very wrong.

    But you go anyway. Because there's always the chance that it could be so very right.

  22. I just found your blog. Thanks for showing how human you are. It makes all agents seem so much more approachable. I loved the post about how you feel like a loser sometimes too.

  23. Jenny,

    Thank you for this. You've no idea…

    – Lancelot

  24. Sledrock says:

    Thanks, Jenny, for supplying the ointment that soothes past, current and future wounds of rejection.

    An ironic twist on rejection:

    The first time I received payment for anything I wrote was for this:

    "My mailman sneeks up to my house; it's for his own protection.
    He knows it's 'hazardous to health' to bring one more rejection."

  25. Amos says:


    A beautiful blog with hints of springtime sprinkled through it.

    As for "inexorably", although you probably meant "inextricably" it is sometimes the case that the linkage between bravery and failure is inexorable. I like that semantic side-slip, if that's what it was!


  26. mohadoha says:

    Having sat across from you at a conference, and pitched, this is was a great pick me up :). I think we all need this reminder that in the trying is sometimes half the succeeding.

  27. Perhaps I look at things differently! lol (What am I saying? I'm a writer! Of course I look at things differently! lol) Anyway…I don't look at things as 'failures' in an absolute sense. I guess what most would consider a failure, I look at as an obstacle to try to find a way around. I understand completely what you're saying and it makes perfectly good sense. Embrace the failures, use them as catalysts to propel yourself forward. ;o) If I understand the point you're trying to make, it is this: NEVER GIVE UP! ;o) Life is too short. There are no 'do overs'. ;o)