Risking Failure Is Fun. Failure Stinks.

This year, I’ve been really stretching out of my comfort zone in both my writing and in my free time. (Here’s how my color guard adventure started out…) Recently, I’ve taken a couple of hard knocks in both arenas.

In writing, I’ve needed to branch out beyond my usual age range/form to try to earn a steady income. I recently took on a work-for-hire fiction project for kids older than my usual age range. I’ve done a few fiction-for-hire projects in the past, but the company always provided and/or approved the concept. In this case, the writers just pitch ideas/synopses. Then the company approves one and you get a green light to write it. All that had happened. The editor accepted the story. But the ultimate reviewer for the project rejected it. Not mainly because of the writing, but because of a basic part of the premise. Very frustrating, since the premise was approved beforehand. But also the reviewer felt there wasn’t enough tension, which of course is part of the writing. Bottom line: I get a small kill fee, but the book won’t be published. I won’t get as much pay. I’ve let down an editor. I’m embarrassed at the story’s shortcomings. I feel like I’ve let down the writer friend who passed along this opportunity to me in the first place.


And in color guard, I was doing ok. I made the guard (and not everybody did, which I was sad about). I’m slow, but I practice at home a lot and was getting better. Then came our first drill camp Saturday. I wish I had pictures to show you but it was all too discouraging.

First, I spent hours creating my drill book. All these tiny computer-generated grids and directions. I could hardly even read the print! Then Saturday dawned, grey and rainy and cold. My little notebook melted into one mushy wad of paper as we trudged through a swampy football field, moving from one set of coordinates to another. I was at the FRONT of a line (what are they thinking) so my plans of just staying between the people on either side of me as we morphed from one shape/location to another were down the drain. My glasses were foggy and wet–I could barely see where I was on the field. I was the only person who has never marched drill before. And I was lost. They would count off and after 5–6‑7–8, I would just stand there until I felt the mass of 30 guard members behind me move and I would try to sense which direction they were going and lumber off that way myself. Everyone was miserable and cold and I messed up every single time. So humiliating. I do not know if I’ll be able to learn how to do this. Keeping all the coordinates in my head, PLUS learning the actual choreography and putting it all together into a nearly flawless performance? Real doubt is creeping in.

OK, enough whining. I just wanted to point out that risking failure means you actually WILL fail sometimes, and then you will start to second-guess yourself. But hopefully, if you risk lots, you will succeed 90% of the time, and that will outweigh this sucky 10%. Right? Right?

(All my color guard adventures posts can be found here.)

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