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taraauthorpolaroidWe have a featured author repeat. The gracious, bodacious Tara Lazaris back and for good reason. Many of you know her as the mama of PiBoIdMo, but in a way, she is also the mama of 12 x 12. Were it not for her and all the great ideas I racked up in 2010 and 2011 (that I failed to execute on), I would never have come up with the idea of 12 x 12 in the first place. I’ve told her that the January featured author spot is hers for as many years as 12 x 12 exists and/or as long as she wants it – whichever comes first. (Pssst… if you haven’t signed up for 12 x 12 in 2013, registration is now open!) 12 x 12 in 2013 participants will have a chance to win a FREE picture book critique from Tara (see the end of the post for details).

So Tara is a huge part of the reason so many shiny new picture books got drafted in 2012, and why so many more will be written in 2013. And it all started with… failure, which is the subject of her post. Strange perhaps in the season of new beginnings and optimism, but I think you’ll agree it’s an important issue for writers of all stripes. Plus failure has a strange way of breeding success. Please welcome Tara!

I’m a failure.

The year 2012 has gone and I only sold one picture book. (Before you roll your eyes at me, please hear me out.)

That was not my plan.

My goal was to sell at least two picture books a year, to keep my career sustained. I have one book slated for this year and two for 2014 release. Now it’s looking like 2015 might be a blank unless I sell something soon. By the time 2016 rolls around, will readers have forgotten me? I won’t lie; it keeps me up some nights.

OK, you can yell at me now.

Tara, you have three books under contract! You should be thrilled!

And I am. Or, I was.

All I ever wanted was to have one book published.

But then that happened. And guess what? My goals evolved.

One book wasn’t enough. I needed two. Then that happened. So I longed for a third. And then I thought two books per year would set a good pace. And now I’m not keeping up.

I could sell three picture books in 2013, who knows? That would make up for my 2012 failure. But I don’t have a crystal ball. (And as we now know, neither do the Mayans.)

Why am I telling you this? How is this in the least bit inspiring? It’s downright depressing, no?

I’m making a point. Feeling like a failure happens to everyone. As a writer, your expectations are higher than anyone else’s. I feel like a failure, but maybe you don’t think I am.

You may not have a book under contract and you feel like a failure. But I don’t think you are. You’ve written stories and revised them. You’ve read craft books. You’ve joined a critique group. You’ve submitted to agents, to publishers. And you’ve been rejected.

A rejection is an accomplishment.

Huh? How is that so?

The majority of people who want to become an author don’t even get that far. They think about it. They dream about it. But they don’t DO.

If you’re doing, you’re not a failure.

Now, I should probably take my own advice, right? I’m doing, so I’m not a failure.

But the feeling of failure is a great motivator. You work harder. You take risks. You’re willing to do anything to emerge from that funk.

You learn from failure. You understand what doesn’t work and avoid that next time. When I was a figure skater, my coach said if I wasn’t falling, I wasn’t learning.

So fall in 2013. Embrace the failure. It might just be good for your career.

Tara Lazar has fallen a lot in life, but she keeps getting up. Her debut picture book THE MONSTORE releases on June 4, 2013, so if you hear fireworks a month early, you’ll know why. Follow her silly escapades at taralazar.com.

Participants – to enter to win a critique from Tara, you must be an official participant (register here) AND you must leave a comment on this post (INCLUDING YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME) any time during the month of January. Leaving a comment gets you one point toward the critique regardless of whether you write or revise a draft. You can earn additional points by writing and/or revising a picture book draft in January. On January 31st, l’ll put a check-in post on the blog. You get one point for writing a new draft and one point for revising an existing draft. If you do both, you get two additional points. Instructions on how to let us know about your progress will be provided in the check-in post. But don’t forget to comment on this one!

Have you ever experienced a failure that led you to success?

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. You asked, “Have you ever experienced a failure that led you to a success?” I’m sitting here thinking. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a success that was NOT preceded by a failure. Maybe I just have ridiculously high expectations of life. Learning to live with that! 🙂

    Shawna Ostler

  2. Its inspiring that you’re goals went from having one book published to multiple books a year. I’m writing but still not up to that level. I’d really like a reply back from a publisher. My failures tend to lead to improved writing but I’m not sure its a total success as yet 🙂

    Thank you.
    Marina Cid

  3. Repeat Offender Failure HERE! I can’t say I like the rejections but I am proud that I’ve thrown myself into the game! Loser so far…winner soon? 🙂

  4. It is hard to stick your neck out again after experiencing rejection. I joined 12 x 12 to force myself to spend more time with my writing and revising, as well as to try to get a handle on the world of publishing today. I think the 12-x 12 community will be helpful.

  5. Thank you for this inspiring post, Tara! I love the idea of thinking about rejections and failures as learning experiences. I’ve had many rejections over the past few years but I sure have learned a lot about writing picture books! Congrats on all your successes and thank you for all you do for this great community of writers.

  6. Tara,

    What an inspiring article. I love how 12 x12 sprouted from failure.

    Only writers know that they need a good deadline to get anything done. This is the perfect place to produce our little babies before they grow with love and support from this incredible informative nest.

    I love 12 x 12.

    My only failure was not joining before now.

    Great post.

  7. Ahhhhh…thank you for just being real human beings Tara and Julie! There is no ONE path to publishing which is both a relief and a challenge. A failure that turned into a success for me occurred when I interviewed for teaching positions. I had many of the same emotions I experience while riding my writing roller coaster. I go from thinking, “I’ve got this!” to, ” There is no way they will choose me.” Well I interviewed several times one summer before I eventually landed a perfect teaching position! Interview rejections feel like epic personal failures! I think I am ready to attempt breaking that elusive mustang again in the publishing world.

  8. Tara’s blog was funny, enjoyable and most important motivating. All of my rejection letters will now be viewed in a positive light. Great post. Thank you for your honesty.

  9. Such an inspiring bit of advice. We can all learn from our failures. And it is comforting to know that even published authors have those down moments. When I have those moments I will remember this blog post. THANK YOU.

  10. Thank you for sharing your own hopes, fears, and goals Tara. One of the things I love about 12×12 is the open and supportive environment!

  11. I’ve failed a lot this year. Some are generic post cards, some have left me hanging, but I few write a brief hand written note. I love those. Thanks for sharing your fails. 🙂

  12. Tara,
    I have had so many rejection letters that I actually shut down for a whole year…..no writing, no revising. I even joined 12 X 12 in 2014 but did nothing with it. This year when I joined 12 X 12 again, it lit a spark under me, so I am back to writing and revising. Reading about your rejections then successes has been motivating.
    Anne Marie Pohl

  13. When I started writing my goal was to FINISH a manuscript. My latest goal has been to get a PERSONAL rejection letter, instead of just auto-generated one. Goals definitely do evolve. Failure or success is all in your perspective (with a little bit of hormonal imbalance tipping the scales some weeks.)
    Thanks for reminding me that sending stories out into the world is an accomplishment in itself.

  14. So often we hear the stories of writers who become hugely successful and all of their (my!) dreams came true. What we forget is that for every one of those there are thousands of other writers whose success came at a slower and more frustrating pace, who had to fight every single day for every single dream, who STILL fight for their dreams in the midst of self-doubt, disappointment and rejection. The other thing we don’t realize is that what we think of as hugely successful may not actually feel that way to the author in question.

    Tara – I think of you as being a hugely successful author, waking up every day to live the real-life dreams that we all aspire to have and which seem so very far out of our reach. But hearing you share your own struggles and fears makes me feel less like an outlier and my challenges seem more par-for-the-course than there-is-something-wrong here. Thank you for that! There is much comfort to be had in your words.

  15. I really enjoyed your webinar. I’ve had some failures that led to success. Things that I desperately wanted at the time that didn’t work out but led to better opportunities than I could have hoped for. Failure can be a good thing.

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