How not to give up

On not even trying to accept failure

Ben Human


Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

This morning I learned that my last real hope of being accepted by a traditional publisher has been dashed.

I saw the innocuous ‘info@’ sender name, and the smallest pang of residual angst flickered in my breast as my eyes drifted to the subject line and confirmed those were indeed my words courting the publisher after the Re: of their reply.

The form letter opened and with the cold clarity of knowing my eye skipped over the first sentence and right to “will unfortunately not be offering", and I stopped reading.

There comes a time when you no longer feel the ridiculous breathless anticipation or Big Occasion exhilaration or senseless self loathing that predates something so certain and unrelated to talent and effort as failing. You simply understand that you’ve failed, well and truly, and that it’s a small thing in the overarching panoply of chaos.

I knew my failure had come, because I knew its face. It wore my face and in it I saw everything I once feared and loathed — the uncertainty, cowardice and smallness of knowing only failure. I felt sorry to see so much defeat on the face of one person.

Well, I thought, uncertainty be damned. What did I know for sure? Logically, my work was either ahead of the curve or behind the times; too good or too bad; unbearably right or all wrong; indefinable, unauthorised, self-defined and of course toxic. Either way, who knew or cared? The thing was, it was inimical to the pastel hues of the workaday publisher’s mind and the fell commercial superficiality of the jaundiced agent’s eye.

Cowardice forever be forsworn (I thought). I do not even feel anger, much less fear. And fuck smallness, because if smallness is what you see through the end of the glass, you had better take it from those who’ve gone before that you have to turn things over a little longer in your head when working with the tools you’ve been handed down in this life to toy with where others fear to tread. More things in heaven and earth, etc.

I could give up at this point, except I don’t really know how. I have tried-not-tried before. I thought of two more options , neither of which appealed to me before, but — as they don’t say — when faced with the extinction of the human race, dating may suddenly become a viable option once more, everything about it notwithstanding. Tell you about them some other time. Them other options.

Meanwhile, my son and daughter both had tickets for Comic Con, an incredibly rare occurrence when all our planets are in phase (I’m driving), so what the hell was I moping about? Tell you about that too, sometime.