Tag Archives: Setbacks

In Need Of Some Spirit Glue

Well, that was a spirit breaker.

I don’t know if you dudes have noticed, but I’m a bit of a writer. (Perhaps you’ve heard of a little thing called A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook?)

Having worked as a newspaper reporter for the first part of my professional career, I equate writing with getting paid. I’m also a bit old so I’m a bit of a traditionalist. That means I want to sell my stories and books to an actual publisher (like Barry and I did with A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook) and get paid for it that way. I’m not all that into self publishing, although I do see it as a perfectly valid form of expression. It’s just not for me right now.

Because of that, I can’t just write something and toss it out to the public. I have to sell my work to someone in a publishing house, which means I face a lot of rejection. Seriously, dudes, I’m talking a lot of rejection.

Heck, compared to the writing career, my success with the ladies in high school and college was legen. . . . dary. That’s the level of rejection I and most writers tend to get from the traditional publishers.

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling pretty good. My critique group seems to like the book I’m working on with them. I managed to crank out a good-sized YA book in a couple of weeks and actually liked the result. I’m halfway through a middle grades book and also feeling good about it.

However, on Tuesday evening, I received an email from one of the larger publishers telling me, in essence, thanks but no thanks. What’s different about this one is that I was able to get my book directly into the hands of someone who works there, who, in turn, gave it to an editor.

Being rejected this time feels a bit more . . . solid.

In my brain, I understand this rejection is no different from any other. I know in my brain that not every story is for every person and I only need to find the right agent or publisher and they’ll love my work.

But, just for now, I’m feeling a bit like I’ve been wasting my time trying to write. That what I’ve just produced won’t be read by anyone but me. That I’m not going to succeed, by any definition of success that means anything.

Please, understand I’m not looking for sympathy. I’ll probably get over it.

My issue right now is that I’m pretty open with my young dudes. They knew that I was submitting a book to this big publisher. I’m going to tell them I got rejected, but I also want them to see me taking it in stride.

I have to set the right kind of example. I need them to internalize the idea that one setback (or 12 setbacks) isn’t enough to make them quit. Will never make them quit. I need them to know that the only thing that can make them quit is inside them already and they have control over that.

But, right now. . . It’s hard to set that sort of example. Knowing you’re good enough to succeed is a bit easier than finding the folks who will agree with you and can help you achieve that.

So I think I’m going to take a bit of a breather, get myself together before telling them about this rejection. I need to get my head in the right place so they can see I remain hard at work, that I’m not going to let this minor roadblock stop me. That I fell, but only so that I could learn to get back up.

After all, Tempus sanat omnia vulnera.

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On Being Savagely Successful

Only through failure can we learn to succeed.

While I believe that’s one of the most important life lessons we can learn, it’s all to often overlooked when we, as parents, attempt to shelter our little dudes and dudettes from this sort of thing, to ensure a failure-free lifetime for our spawn.

The problem with that plan is that it ensures the growth of a no-longer-child who cannot cope with setbacks, who doesn’t know how to learn from mistakes, use that knowledge to correct his or her errors and move on to the next aspect of his or her life. Those of us of the adult persuasion understand that learning from our mistakes so we don’t make them again is essential in just about every aspect of our daily existence.

Folks shouldn’t look at failure as a bad outcome, as long as they contain the persistence to continue working toward the goal they, at first, didn’t attain. Heck, listen to huckster and part-time inventor Thomas Alva Edison: I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations which wouldn’t work.

Adam Savage is a Maker, sort-of scientist and best known as co-host of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters series. Yesterday, I ran a list of his 10 rules for success. One of those rules said — simply — fail.

If you’ve ever watched Mythbusters, you know one of his sayings is that “Failure is always an option.” He’s not a defeatist, rather he understands that by examining why something failed and how it failed, he can apply those lessons to make the endeavor succeed.

Another of his rules that I particularly like would have to be: If you want something, ASK. I’ve a feeling this should be self-explanatory, but, for too many dudes and dudettes, this completely escapes them.

Too many people seem to believe that their only choices are the ones actually offered to them. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of the most important lessons that Zippy the College Boy learned in high school and that, hopefully, Hyper Lad will learn now that he’s attending the same high school, is to self advocate. Which means, in a nutshell, ask for what you want.

If you don’t understand something in class, ask the teacher for clarification. If you still don’t get it, don’t worry. Just keep asking and trying until you do.

If you see someone doing something cool? Ask them how they did it, how they learned it? Where can you learn it?

Looking at Savage’s list, I think the most important thing you can take away from it is that you should approach life as a participatory sport, rather than something you should watch happen.

Get involved! Get motivated!

Work, as Savage said, your ass off to achieve your goals. If you don’t have what you need to accomplish those goals, don’t collapse into a weeping pile of angst. Ask for help. Get what you need, practice the new skills and get good. Then go out and accomplish your goals.

Success takes more than just hard work and diligence, but you can’t succeed without either of them.

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Why Do We Fall?

by Richard

Batman has a lot to teach dudes everywhere. No, seriously. Let me ‘splain.

I was watching the fantastic movie Batman Begins with the young dudes the other night, as we are wont to do when there isn’t anything fantastic on the television some nights. Also when I want to squeeze in a little more of that quickly disappearing Sarcasmo-time before he’s running shrieking away from home and toward college.

So, we were watching Batman Begins and we got to the part where young Bruce Wayne (who will grow to become Batman, for those of you Batman-impaired out there) is rescued from the well into which he’s fallen by his father, Thomas Wayne. This is, of course, before the young Bruce’s idyll and wonderful life is shattered forever by the avaricious Joe Chill and his handgun.

Thomas, like all good dads, even billionaire/philanthropist/surgeon/icon dude dads (as we all are [at least in our own minds that is]), Thomas Wayne uses the close call, the near scrape with death or at least bone-breakingly difficult damage, to teach young Bruce a lesson in life.

Young Bruce Wayne is rescued from the well by his father — pulled literally out of darkness into light — when Thomas asks and answers his own question in a tidy little aphorism. “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

And, honestly, that’s some pretty profound sh– stuff right there. Think about it for a bit, dudes. As young kids (and for many of us this is up until right about the time we retire), we’re not the type to believe anything unless it happens to us. Sure, Mom and Dad said the stove burner was hot when it turned red, but it doesn’t really hit home until we reach out our pudgy little fingers, touch the heating element and then start screaming bloody murder because, hey, that thing’s hot! Why didn’t anyone tell us?

It’s the same throughout our lives in all different areas. People tell us that studying only the night before a test won’t get us good grades, but we don’t believe it until that second or third F. (That first one or two could have been coincidence.) We have to learn to deal with setbacks the same way.

If all we ever encountered in life was a series of unending progress, never failing or doing less than the best, we’d never be prepared for the first time life threw us a curveball.

As parents, our natural instinct is to always protect our young dudes from the cruel world just outside the window. But, as parents, we also know that we have to let the young dudes learn for themselves and learn by failing. Because, you see, that’s when the important lesson starts.

To put it in cowboyese, you’ve got to learn to get back up on that horse once you’ve been thrown. One failure does not mean the end of the line. Only the end of that attempt. We have to learn for ourselves that it is possible and preferable to stand on our own, dust off our metaphorical pants and get back to work.

Why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up.

Wise words from Batman. Learn them. Live them.

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