Negotiating Real Life Try-Fail Cycles

This time every year, I often start a battle with a bit of the blues. Not the B.B. King kind (because that’d never be a battle), but the “I-had-so-much-I-wanted-to-get-done-this-year” blues. Weight I’d planned to lose, agents I planned to have, editors I’d hoped would be reading my book. Of course, the year isn’t over yet, and my querying journey has recently transitioned beyond form rejections, but it is also when I realize it’s almost November, which really means it’s almost Christmas, and my goals haven’t progressed like I’d like.

It’s funny how the try-fail cycle is something we try to work in with our characters but try to avoid in our own lives (not really funny.)

And it’s funny how even though I know about the try-fail cycle, I still want to avoid it in my own life (even less funny.)

And it’s super funny that when the try-fail cycle shows up in my own life, in my creative endeavors, in the process of chasing dreams, I really just want try – not quite – WIN! (If you are laughing now it because you relate to this so well.)

Thankfully, there is a great international program starting next week that gives me a chance to have a win. That, of course, is NaNoWriMo. There is something about watching a little line of progress climb, a drive to hit 1667 a day (more at the first of the month to avoid total anti-social behavior around the holidays) that can often draw me out of my slump.

Last year was the first year I’d won. And for the first 1/3 of the month, I typed my words with just my left hand because my right had just been reconstructed. It was the year of all years that I should have added to my fail tradition of Nano (I’d gone six years without hitting 50k), and instead, it was the year I won.

And that’s the funny thing about the try-fail cycle. For our great fictitious heroes, we all know that their greatest victory comes when they have sunk to a low that they are certain is lower than they can bear. Victory comes after struggling through challenges, after beatings from disappointment and sorrows, when the last flickering flame of hope is about to go out. And maybe, for an instant, it does. But then, always then, something happens within the hero, something that begins to burn brighter that the previous flame could have ever hoped for.

I don’t know a single person in any creative endeavor who had their pursuit go according to plan. I don’t know a single successful person in any entity who had victory after victory, who simply gathered hopes by the dozen from the conveyor belt of achievement.

Perhaps the victory starts small – a 1000 word day when the hope was for 500. A request for a partial when expecting rejection. Suddenly understanding a character’s motives and how it affects the plot.

Yes, they are small.

Yes, they are barely measurable.

But a win is a win.

So, if you, like me and so many others, are feeling a little down at where you are, remember to take a look at your journey so far, re-read/re-watch your favorite hero and track how far they fell before climbing started to work again.

And then, my friend, keep working your way through the cycle. Because the blues can be beat, and victory can absolutely be yours.

Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter.

4 thoughts on “Negotiating Real Life Try-Fail Cycles

  1. Great post!! And I hear you on EVERYTHING (books, agents, weight). And with some family issues happening, the blues have been off-the-charts. But I do this thing where I write down what I have done, over the course of the week/month/year, so I can look back and go “Hey, I DID do a lot. Not the Herculean goals I wrote down, but the more manageable Wonder Woman ones.” ;o)



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