Tara LazarWe have a featured author repeat. The gracious, bodacious Tara Lazar is 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?

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, Giveaway, Goals, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Publishing, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Another great post, Tara! I’ve fallen many times and learned from my mistakes. I’m sure there are many spills to take this year as well. I’m ready!
    ~Tina Cho

  2. You made me think, Tara! I do make lots of mistakes but have never considered them failures, neither do I have many regrets. The ‘big’ mistakes have made me who I am and where I am today, and I quite like it here. Congratulations on those contracts and may there be many more to come!

  3. Yes, failure is good (*repeat to self*). 🙂 Thanks for this insightful post.

  4. What a perfectly appropriate post for me today! Thanks for the realistic and positive view of failure. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Thanks!
    ~Beth Gallagher

  5. My Mom is signing me up today! 😀 Great post Ms. Lazar. We all need to fail!! 😉
    Erik Weibel

  6. Wow, this post just made my day! It’s hard not to feel like you failed after getting a rejection letter in the mail. But all the hard work has to count for something, right? I will keep my head up high and march on! 😉 Thanks Tara

    Megan Baker

  7. Tara, get out of my brain! This is totally my own thought process: I’m a failure — but I’ve accomplished so much — but I’m not there yet — I’m sending things out at least — and getting rejected — I’m a failure. For so, so long I sat in stunned dreamy silence in my chair, and now I’m doing things, and getting out there, and I’m so happy to be failing. Because I’m doing stuff. Here’s to 2013, and more doing! -Julie Falatko

  8. Yay! Great post, Tara. Perfect way to begin this year’s adventure.

    Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

  9. Thanks for the encouragement. In January 2009 I attended my first SCBWI Winter Conference. I also participated in the Illustrators’ Intensive and the Showcase. The moderator and other participants gave me very encouraging feedback on my Intensive piece. The Showcase was another story.

    I knew nothing about picture book illustration and my portfolio showed it. I presented a collection of fine of art pieces. Well that was a disaster! Within the disaster was a blessing because I began to learn what I did not know. I experienced a tsunami of information about story illustration — words and pictures. I saw dozens of excellent illustrator portfolios and I collected about sixty business and promo cards enabling me to study illustrator websites for weeks afterwards. Acquiring knowledge was worth the one-time humiliation of presenting the “wrong” portfolio.

  10. Oohs! Sorry my first SCBWI was 2010.

  11. Melanie Ellsworth

    Thank you, Tara. Hmm – do writers feel like failures more often than other folk? It certainly feels like that. I like your point that most people don’t dare jump in and write; at least we can hold on to that when we fail.
    – Melanie Ellsworth

  12. I opened my mail this morning to find a rejection letter so this post was so perfect for me! (You were speaking to me directly, no?) Thanks for taking the sting out.
    -Elaine Kearns

  13. Kathleen Cornell Berman

    Thanks for making FAILURE a POSITIVE! I agree with you, it is a fine motivator. We are all doing something about our dreams which will eventually lead us to a more productive and creative life. Thanks Tara.
    Kathy Cornell Berman

  14. Another great post, Tara! I have always thought of failure as the first step towards winning. I know, crazy huh? A rejection slip is my go-ahead to buy a brick. At first I told myself that I wanted to collect enough bricks to build a patio, but I’m now aiming for enough bricks to build a house. So a rejection slip is a win win situation for me… I’m either going to become published or have a brick ranch house

  15. Having gone through PiBoIdMo with you and hundreds of others, it is so good to hear your advice. Rejection is never easy to take but not writing would be so much worse. Thanks for your support!

  16. Thanks, Tara. I love the perspective of books published in a year as opposed to books sold. Considering the future as motive for action in the present works for me. 🙂

  17. Failure can definitely be inspiring. If nothing else, it shows me how not to do something. I am in the middle of one of those disappointing moments right now, so your post really helped.


  18. Sharalyn Edgeberg

    Thank you for sharing. I am just beginning and hoping to get my first picture book published. I appreciate how you goals have evolved. Your determination is inspiring, and gives me hope.

  19. Here’s to opening myself up to failure (and the resulting growth!) in 2013–

  20. Thanks, Tara! This is so helpful. I’ve tried giving myself permission to write “garbage,” but the fear of failure has still kept me blocked. Good to know that failure is just a necessary step in writing.
    –Susan Halko

  21. Thanks for this post. I had decided 2102 was the year I really focused on my writing. Part of me wants to think I didn’t accomplish anything since nothing got accepted, but I did do all of this:
    wrote 4 pb manuscripts
    had 3 pb manuscripts ciritqued
    submitted one pb, still waiting to hear
    wrote and submitted 4 short short stories, still waiting to hear
    finished my first ever complete draft of a novel, starting to revise now

    Not bad for a year, I hope to do more this year. I know that the only failure would be to quit now
    🙂 Michelle Dobbins

  22. Every time I write or revise a manuscript and it’s not quite right, I feel like a failure. But you’re right — it drives me to keep going until it I get it right. Thanks for the inspiration, Tara! I’m looking forward to many failures (and successes) this year!

    Margaret Chiu Greanias

  23. Thank you, Tara! “Embrace failure!” is exactly what I needed to hear!

    Lois Sepahban

  24. Signed up today. I thank God for providing the money. Thrilled to be back again, Julie. Tara, I feel like this every day. *sob* So good to know that I’m in good company. *wink* I needed to hear this. Will post it in my office. *waving peace signs*

    Robyn Campbell

  25. Tara, thank you for your words of wisdom! I This is my favorite quote:

    “What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?” ~Robert H. Schuller

  26. Tara – I often feel like a failure but I am DOING so I guess I’m not a failure. And you’re so right, feeling like a failure keeps you motivated to keep DOING. Tricky mind-games work. LOL!

  27. Nice post, Tara! I also always wanted just ONE book published. Now I am in dread fear that I am a one-book-wonder, and I am DYING to get another sale. I would never make a goal like your courageous two-a-year goal, but one more would be good. Really good. Is there any such thing as a two-book-wonder….?

    Genevieve Petrillo

  28. Thank you, Tara, for this thoughtful reminder that there are no failures, only quitters. I also see the endless stream of desires to publish yet another book. Never satisfied. But we keep working anyway, regardless of the outcome. As William Stafford, my favorite poet once said, “The prize is the process, not the product.”

  29. You know, Tara, failure was the word I was about to fet tattooed (gee, that word looks funny!) on my forehead. In 2012, I got published. But, it didn’t happen the way I had envisioned. And, I didn’t finish a lot of writing goals that I’d set for myself. You’re right, though. Once the ball dropped, launching us into 2013, I made the choice to not let “failure” haunt me; instead, I’d let it push me.

    Great post, friend!! Let’s do this!!!

  30. Thanks for this motivation, Tara, both to not let seeming failure stop us, and to keep setting the bar higher. May our failures lead to more and more success (even if they lead to more failures first!).

    Beth Stilborn

  31. Thank you Tara. I remember reading a quote somewhere that our job as creators is to fail as quickly as possible as often as possible, so we can get to our successes.

  32. Oh, Tara. Of course you win again with the greatest post ever of all time.

    *fist bump*

  33. Thanks Tara. Love your post. Very encouraging. Some of my failures are missed goals from 2012, has led me to re-organize my priorities and manage my time for 2013. So I can get some polished MS, send them out, and maybe get accepted or most likely rejected. But a step in the correct direction nonetheless. I agree failure is a great motivator as long as you don’t let it stop you.

    Darshana Khiani

  34. Great post to keep me grounded. The work is ahead and I know that it is exactly that “work”. Enjoying the process is my center and joy. But failure to get the work out in the world is teaching me to just dig in and send it out.
    Donna Jeanne Koepp

  35. Holy smokes, I want to win the January critique! Tara, you rock. My failure–? If I started in, I’d never write anything else. Suffice it to say that moving on is my buzzword phrase for 2013. I’m a jet pilot, I’m a shark, I’m–a writer. Better get to it!

  36. Jill Proctor
    Thank you, Tara! It’s one big boat we’re all floating in. It’s comforting to know there are so many of us – encouraging each other to sail and keep sailing onward. I have a file full of rejections – and I proudly keep it in view on my shelf. My mantra is, Perseverance Furthers!

  37. I have 3 PBs in print (published traditionally) but haven’t sold another since 2010! So yeah, Make that a failure with a side of panic, please. I really liked the part that if you’re not falling, you aren’t learning. Thanks, Tara and Julie.

  38. Goal setting is important. In my last session with Simone Kaplan of Picturebook People, she told me, “Remember, small steps.” So we agreed that I would have one PB manuscript ready for NJSCBWI in June.

  39. *repeats mantra: “Failure is good for me.”* Thanks for sharing with us, Tara. At least I can take heart that I am still DOING and someday that WILL lead to publication.

    Julie – I like that we now get extra points for revising existing drafts. That’s just the kind of motivation I need!

  40. My mind is blank today, but you are right, Tara…a rejection does mean our work is “out there”. I need to remember that. Thanks for your encouragement, and congrats on your two soon-to-be published books!
    Jarm Del Boccio

  41. yay Tara! Glad to see you here 🙂

  42. Thanks Tara and Julie for this post. With very little “published” success in the writing world under my belt I can relate to this all too well. But I have numerous rejections so I’m definitely “out there!” A nice pep talk to start out the year.

  43. Hi Tara and Julie, thank you to both of you for failing. If it weren’t for your failures (and obviously my own) I wouldn’t be continuing a journey from my first PiBoIdMo to my first 12 x 12 – thank goodness I was told I would amount to nothing by my high school English teacher.

  44. I love that comment from your coach, Tara. “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.” It’s good to remember that and not be so afraid to fall!

  45. One of my favorite books from a few years ago was titled FAILING FORWARD. That’s what 2013 feels like so far. If I can only fail often enough and in the right direction maybe I’ll get somewhere. You are awesome, Tara. I’m sure you’ll skate on to much success this year.

  46. My first picture book was rejected 33 times before The Phone Call from Albert Whitman. I kept all those “failures” and now incorporate them as part of my author visits!

  47. I had a professor who said, “I feel sorry for the students that always score 100% on tests. Those who answer a quesiton wrong, will never forgot the right answer.” That lesson stuck with me through the years.

    Tara, thanks for the encouraging post!

  48. (ooh, Julie H., points! I’m a sucker for points!)
    I want to be failing like you, Tara! After hearing a few times now about triple-digit rejection numbers before that first sale, I feel like I need to rack up those rejections before I will finally get The Call. But it does get discouraging. The failures that lead to success for me have been the manuscripts that come back from my critique group, or (rarely) from an agent or editor, that really push me to take my story further or in a different direction. When I tried taking a rhyming story into prose, it led to 2 additional stories, plus a whole new version in rhyme. That completely surprised me, and gave me more faith in my creativity.

  49. Awesome post and one I hope I can keep in mind as I navigate the path from idea(s) to published work. I keep telling myself that once I get that first rejection letter it’s the time I can truly say – “I am a writer.” Staying positive about rejection is definitely going to be hard.

    Michelle Mapp

  50. Loved PiBoIdMo and am excited to do 12×12. Thanks for the post … you are an inspiration!

  51. Love it, Tara! And here is to perseverence, and toughing it out.

  52. I signed up for PiBoIdMo for the first time last year and now 12×12 for this first time this year. Thanks Tara and Julie for these motivating challenges. It’s a good kick in the butt to start the ball(pen) rolling and also for someone taking care of an energiser-bunny toddler full time. Being able to plug into a writing community anytime without leaving home really helps!

  53. Fantastic – and SO realistic – post!
    “What comes next after we’ve achieved what we wanted?” – that’s what keeps us moving forward.

  54. Tara, you always rock! I’m looking forward to achieving new levels of feeling like a failure (after achieving new levels of successes, of course).
    -Jan O’Neil

  55. Some wise insights…highlighting that our relative perspectives are, indeed, relative 😉 Looking forward to MONSTORE!

  56. Julie Rowan-Zoch

    To answer the final question: I have never failed at anything.

    So, yeah, it happens every day. I mess up on a pencil sketch – you know, just slip out and draw a line or mark I didn’t intend. I yell something I can’t share here, then I look at it again, and find that mistake is just what my picture needed!

    Loved Lori’s comment, by the way!

  57. Looking forward to the challenge!!

    ~Janelle mikulas

  58. Your opening line gave me a good laugh. Thanks!
    I may be the ‘failure’ queen! Or at least princess. Where’s my tiara? Umm, let’s see…I was a pilot for my profession before I couldn’t hold a medical (health- you miss it when it’s gone!), and a horse trainer . But had those professions not gone away/failed I wouldn’t have taken the leap I’d only been toying with and become a full time artist. Which led me to illustrating. Which led me to writing/illustrating. Which is where I belong. All my professions have been daunting, and I agree that a little failure can bring out the best.
    To me, each rejection is like waving a red flag in my face. So bring it on!

  59. Was I supposed to type in my name, too? If so, its Wendy Myers

  60. One of my favourite quotes is by J.M Barrie “We are all failures…at least the best of us are”…..This is just so true. I am really looking forward to failing a lot in 2013….stepping further and further outside my comfort zone, pushing myself each time.

    A great post Tara….thank you 🙂

    Nicky Johnston

  61. Here’s another goodie – “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
    ― Winston S. Churchill

    Thanks for the inspirational post Tara! Great way to kick off a new writing year. Looking forward to getting to know you better in 12×12 2013.

    Best to all!
    Sarah Towle

  62. Antoinette Martin

    What a great attitude toward such a reality for writers. It is so easy to give up when the rejections pile high and writers block causes you to prefer to do laundry. Thanks Tara, great words to start a new year.

  63. Thanks for the great post, Tara! I love what your coach said — if you’re not falling, you’re not learning. I guess I’m learning a lot! 🙂 Your post also reminds me of my son’s classroom motto, “Swing the bat.” We all have to take a risk, to DO something, in order to accomplish anything.

    Andrea Wang

  64. Embracing risk and failure for growth!

  65. Great to have you share your journey! I can’t wait to buy your first book! This quote seems appropriate to share in this forum: Every tried. Ever failed. No matter. TRY AGAIN. Fail again. Fail better.~Samuel Beckett. I’m committed to doing & trying, butt-in-chair time and creating. Failure is most definitely one of several outcomes that will occur but it will be in combination with joy, learning, growth, and most importantly–shifting my ‘fear of failure’ to a ‘dare to try’ 🙂

  66. Thanks for the great post! Coming from an acting background I certainly have had my “failures”. After coming home from a tough audition and telling my husband about it, he said: “Everytime you audition you’re one step closer to the next part.” I’ve never forgotten that. Congratulations on your book, Tara! That is so incredible and inspiring!
    Jennifer Kirkeby

  67. You scared me for a minute, Tara. What a great hook. The negativity pulled me in with “Say it isn’t so, Tara. What? Oh, okay, now I get it.” Reading this article was a fun ride for a life coach, as learning from so called failure is something I believe in. Congratulations on your successes and your failures. BIG CONGRATS on THE MONSTORE and your other upcoming books.

  68. Failure resides in the never trying camp. I’m just hoping that luck will shine on me when my preparation meets up with an opportunity. Thank you for PiBoIdMo. Loved it more than chocolate.
    LoriAnn Levy-Holm

  69. thanks, tara! once again you hit it out of the ballpark. you truly amaze me and i appreciate your words more than you know, especially the “will they forget me?”
    susan crites

  70. Thank you, Tara and Julie! This reminds me of something I saw from Neil Gaiman on Facebook today: if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning/growing/etc. I intend to fall lots and make lots of mistakes! LOL!

    Teresa Robeson

  71. Great post Tara. The FEAR of failure can be so paralyzing. Pushing past the fear and participating in challenges like PiBo and 12×12, joining crit groups, or attending conferences is the best antidote. Sure, you might still “fail” along the way, but at least you’re out there doing and growing. Not trying is far more destructive than rejection.

  72. You know that cartoon character who walk on the street with a menacing gloomy cloud over his head? That’s me! For several years now, seems that everything in my life goes wrong… tremendously and traumatically wrong but, like Tara, I always get back on my feet or so — sometimes have to crouch to avoid unidentified flying events coming my way unexpectedely but… It is not easy as dreams as well as living a “normal” life had been shattered in gizzilion of pieces.

    But, when I think about it, all those events are great subjects for stories. Just have to gather enough energy and focus to put everything together, to envision what to do with all my notes. Just have to breath deeply, get over the trauma that makes my insides shake like a 9.0 earthquake provoking a tsunami of tears and take my pen and bleed my pain, my fears, my experiences on the paper. A cliché? Well! Yes! Of course it is, sometimes clichés anchors us in the reality, offers a little comfort, a steady rock to sit on for a brief moment.

    I wrote and published, in a recent past, several books for children and YA… in French. I translated them in English. I was ready to publish them when the storm hit me. Now, I want to go back to this time of before the trauma and go forward, to do something with my life and my passion… you and other fellow writers had given me back a sense of stability. Thank you!

    I wish I could subscribe to the 2013 12×12. Monetarily, it is impossible for the moment but maybe I could be there for the 2014’s one. In the mean time, I am reading all of you with great joy, simmering in my passion and relearning to walk my walk… and write, write, write.

    Thank you!

    • I’ve had times like that, xplorexpress. Be encouraged that it is not the way your life will be forever. It just feels like that when you are in the middle of the storm. For me now it is just a distant memory of a block of time(s). I’ve had several ‘storms’. Yes, use it all! Good luck to you and may the evils forget your address! Wendy

  73. If you don’t have fears, you are not alive.
    Kristen Fulton

  74. Oh dear, I just wrote a lengthy post and it all of a sudden disappeared. I’ll wait to see if it shows up tomorrow in case it is being moderated. See, it was a very fitting article for a fitting “failed” post. :o)

    Tanja Bauerle.

  75. Aha, I see my second post but not the first one. Looks like it must have disappeared into the Cyber-void. Anyway, what I was saying, was that it is rather refreshing that established writers like you have just as many doubts about success and failure like us newbie writers. So, thank you Tara, for the realization that my inner dialog of “I suck” and “I’m a failure” must be part of the creative process shared by so many.

    Also, thank you for this past November’s PiBoIdMo. it was my first time participating and I came away with almost 50 solid ideas or concepts that I’ll be able to draw from for this 12 x 12 challenge.

    Happy Creating to all.
    Tanja Bauerle.

  76. Fantastic post and i agree…everyone here is following their dreams…setting goals and achieving…cheers to us all…clink clink

  77. Yes I failed. I thought I would submit another picture book by now but it languishes in the drawer not up for the light of day. You see too many had written about that topic and I didn’t have a new slant. I’m glad to be here. 🙂

  78. Thanks, Tara! I’ve saved every rejection letter I’ve ever recieved, from checkmarked lists to hartfelt,handwritten notes. They are proof to myself that I am in the game. My writing goals, I think, need to be more on the order of “I want to share my writing with kids and help them enjoy reading,” and less of a notch on my belt.

  79. You’re so right, Tara. A rejection is a step on the path toward success because it means you’ve submitted something. You can’t be accepted for publication unless you submit. So for everyone who’s received rejections–congratulations on being on the right path!

  80. No one says it quite like Tara! Amazing post and great inspiratiion…. I like the quote.. you have to fall to learn” Thanks is too small a word!
    Diane Tulloch

  81. Thanks for the terrific post, Tara!! Like they say, “Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all!” Or something like that 🙂

  82. Great topic Tara! I’m a big failure fan too. It always leads me in a new and better direction. Two years ago I thought I had the perfect PB script (my first ever) so I rang up a London agent who I thought deserved the opportunity to see it first. Incredibly, the agent herself answered the phone and asked me to read the script to her there and then. I scrambled around, found one of the latest versions, and read aloud with pride in my heart. I lasted about one paragraph before she told me in no uncertain terms that my meter was a mess. I was devastated. How could she be so wrong. After a week I figured out that she was right and I was a failure. Hurray! It led me to obsessively learn how to write in perfect meter. Since then I have had nothing but praise for my rhyming. I even went on to win the March Madness Poetry Tournament a year later. I submitted the revised and perfected script immediately after and spectacularly failed again. Apparently my story structure was a mess! Hooray! More failure. Time to learn about story structure and dive into prose writing. Which I’ve done now and have four scripts ready to go. Can’t wait to find out what’s wrong with these ones!!

  83. Thanks, Tara, for your reflections on failure and motivation. I remember part of a Jerry Spinelli speech about “losing” and “rejection.” You lose; your book is rejected. What do you do? You write another book! I also like the Winston Churchill quote–“it is the courage to continue that counts.” Thanks, Sarah.
    Ellen Ramsey

  84. Rachel Smoka-Richardson

    Thank you Tara – because of PiBoIdMo, I have 60 picture book ideas!

  85. Right on, Tara. “A rejection is an accomplishment.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thanks for the reminder.

  86. Tara, thanks for keeping us all going, in mre ways than one. I have yet to submit to publishers, but with a lot of support and revisions and new stories, this will be the year! Thank you for all your hard work and support of us all! Here’s to 4 books for you this year!

  87. How about this…”Doing is the new Winning…”? Now I just have to get around to the doing part. Feeling motivated!

  88. Thanks for the words of wisdom and encouragement, Tara! I believe “failures” are actually delayed or modified successes. It may be a PollyAnna view, but I do think that things happen or don’t happen for a reason and in my life it has turned out for the best after a failure.
    Happy New Year!
    Bridget Magee

  89. This was the perfect motivation to start 12×12 with. Thanks Tara!
    Jen Carroll

  90. Tara, Still in the phase of trying to get just one published. Can’t wait till Monstore comes out. Rosanne Kurstedt

  91. Thanks for the inspiration and dose of reality. Great reminder. Writing is always moving forward – in so many directions.

  92. Boy did I need to read this! I am a big believer in practice… and failing is just an uglier word for practice… but I was in a mental slump when this post came out, and I needed that bit of perspective. 2013, onward!

  93. Well said, Tara! Such wise advice. I plan on failing A LOT this year! 🙂

  94. Can’t get an acceptance unless you submit, can’t submit unless you write, can’t have success without some failure. Thanks for the post!

  95. Thanks for the fantastic post, Tara. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a failure that turned directly into a success. But when I feel like I’ve failed, it makes me even more determined to find a way to succeed. Obviously, it would be wonderful never to fail. But I think those moments of failure push us to try even harder and to search out new methods of writing or honing our skills….so they ultimately help lead to our growth and future success.

    • I’m a great believer in not giving up on rejected manuscripts. A story rejected by Highlights (Artist in the Woods) went on to become an easy reader book at Continental Press. A story rejected by Humpty Dumpty (Baseball Buns) was later sold to Knowonder and featured as a story of the day. A craft project (printing with lilacs) rejected by Highlights was sold to Turtle. I try to send out fifty submissions a year, and when they come back rejected, I send them out again!

  96. ‘Embrace the failure,’ had never occured to me. Very inspiring Tara to keep at it. Thank you.

  97. I agree wholeheartedly this is a wonderful post. Before JK Rowling was huge, I had the opportunity to ask her about being rejected. She told me, “Any writer worth their salt, has many rejections under their belt.” Food for thought, no?

  98. Thanks, Tara. Great post!

    Michelle Lord

  99. Poppy Wrote Just read the post! Insightful. 🙂

  100. Let’s replace the word failure with ‘tryer’ (is there such a word) A quote comes to mind ‘If at first you don’t succeed try again’. In life we have to face our failures and mistakes.Try breaking word ‘mistake’ into two. Miss (I missed out) Take ( I take and learn what I can from that experience)
    Extremely wise post Tara Thanks

  101. Penny Klostermann

    I agree…if we’re not failing…we’re not doing anything. It’s part of the process, so I try to stay positive about it. You post is a boost! Thanks!

    Penny Klostermann

  102. I read this early in the month. Rereading it today I feel inspired all over again. Thanks for the perspective.

    Lynda Shoup

  103. This really hit home: “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.”

    I’ve been writing ‘stuff’ all my life, but very rarely submitted anything. Than about a year ago I submitted a picture book. Of course it was rejected. It fit too few of the rules I wasn’t aware of (such as it being 2800 words). Since then I’ve read and studied, joined CBI, and 12 X 12 came along just after I submitted my second picture book (about 900 words) and in a few weeks I’ll submit another. I’m finished just dreaming!

  104. Tara, thanks for always inspiring!

  105. Tara, your ideas are so inspiring. I loved participating in PiBoIdMo. It really got me thinking about what I wanted to write and why. Then, December and January moved in along with my doubts. Thank you for the reminder that we are all writing what we are meant to write and whether we are writing for ourselves or a bigger audience doesn’t matter – it is the doing that means something. Thanks for the encouragement to keep moving forward! Here’s to embracing failure in 2013! ~Kerry Mazengia

  106. Does anyone succeed without falling on their face a few times first? If there is, I don’t particularly want to meet them. Boring! This was my first year participating in PiBoIdMo and I was astounded by how well the ideas started to flow when I made the time to brainstorm every day. They’re not all keepers, but it’s a start. Thank you both, Julie and Tara, for providing an easily accessible creative community. -Heather Newman

  107. Nice to “see” you, Tara! My example of failure leading to success has to do with a job. I applied for multiple jobs and was frustrated when none of them panned out. But then I got a job that was perfect for me and made me realize I wanted to write for children. – Jenny Boyd

  108. Tara,
    Thank you for the inspiring post. We should view our attempts from the perspective of making progress. I still have a rejection letter from my first application for a teaching job. It became a blessing to me because a more suitable position was available later.

  109. Tara,
    This was just what I needed to hear. I love the encouragement and positive energy from the kidlit community! Bring on 2013. Here we go.
    Erin Pearson

  110. Thank you for the inspiring words! It’s a great reminder to keep writing and to not give up on our dreams.

  111. It’s interesting what we rate as failure. We put such pressure on ourselves. While having goals and striving is critical to success, so is accepting that we aren’t infallable. Heres to you selling those three books in 2013!

  112. Sure, I think it’s easy for a lot of us to say “quit whining, you with your book contracts!” but the truth is, you were willing to put in the work. Some of us (okay, ME) are still struggling with the getting your butt in the chair problem. Maybe your example of feeling like a failure can motivate the likes of me – I still have most of my great ideas in my head, just dying to make it to the page.

  113. Tara I was also a member of PiBo this year, and you have been so inspiring, I just want to thank you for all the wonderful advice and encouragement I have received in 2012 and now in 2013 from and through you.

  114. Julie, good thing you directed us back here…I was POSITIVE I had commented early in January…oops…guess not.:) One of the most important lessons here for me is that as parents and educators, we MUST encourage our children to FAIL…because without failure there is no growth. Thanks so much, Tara…stellar post…sage advice. How did you get so wise? 🙂

  115. Failure only means you’re trying. As one who has worked in many different creative fields I can say that failures come with the territory of a creative life. And there are usually WAY more of them than successes. So learn to love the stumbles and mistakes and rejections. Hopefully you keep the worst ones only to yourself!

  116. Many people talk about embracing failure, but I keep thinking about YOUR post. I read it at the beginning of the month and never commented. Thanks Tara for sharing your experiences. Great way to start off the year.

  117. Tara, to win it you have to be in it. Look at the things you’ve accomplished already!

  118. I felt really good about my first rejection. I’d been writing for years and 2012 was the first year I was brave enough to get anything finished and out there. Yes, it was a rejection, but it made me feel like a real writer!

  119. I appreciate Tara’s post and words of wisdom. Every rejection letter has forced me to go back and fine-tune a manuscript, and while I am still seeking “success”, I am trying to appreciate the failures along the way. Thanks for the encouragement to type on.

  120. Gah, it’s hard to throw yourself out there, isn’t it? I keep reminding myself, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” (Thanks, Gretzky). Here’s to taking more shots!

  121. And another thing…timing is vastly important. Just signed a contract for a PB written years ago, but apparently, its time has finally come!

  122. Just the article I needed to read today….Sometimes it just feels as if it’s one step forward, two steps backward….But then I chat with my writing friends, read blogs and realize I’m not the only one feeling that way…. And the one thing that helps the most? Re-reading some old stuff I wrote a year, maybe even just a few weeks ago and realizing that the fact that I can see where it could be improved, must mean I am evolving as a writer…. no matter how slow.

  123. Great encouragement. Nothing has prepared me for the amount of self-cheerleading this job requires! Posts like this lift the spirits on a grey January day. Thank you : )

  124. How did I miss this? Oh-yeah–sick the first two weeks of January – then two weeks catching up! Tara – this is awesome and good for us any time of the year. Thanks for keeping on hair on our heads even when we feel like pulling it out! It’s always so easy to encourage someone else…why can’t we do it for ourselves?

  125. Like Vivian, I thought I had commented earlier. I certainly read the post. I remember some of the other comments. But, it seems I FAILED to comment (or click the correct button, or something). Proof that we need reminders, encouragement, nudges, budges, kicks-in-the-pants from our fellow writers.
    Thanks Julie for the nudge. Thanks Tara for the great post.
    I tumble, stumble toward to my goals, tumbling ‘spite the dark black holes, scratches bruises are my tolls, but tumbling FORWARD to my goals.
    — Damon Dean

  126. Tara, always inspiring.

  127. I am taking on accumulating many failures in 2013 as a goal. At least I know I’ve been out there, putting my work forward, rather than hiding in the closet and not creating anything.

    Sallie Wolf

  128. Great advice, Tara. I will keep sending in query and think that I am a winner for my rejections, now. : )

  129. Hey – I don’t even have a rejection yet. You’re fantastic! Really enjoyed your post. BTW, there are novelists who reject publishers because they make more money self publishing. Thanks for this group Julie Hedlund. Great motivation. I need this. Without it, I sit and consider and never get to the page.

  130. And another thing — Dr. Seuss had 100 rejections before somebody finally recognized his talent.

  131. Ha! Loved this, Tara! Great post. (And, huge congrats, by the way!! :-)) I’m trying to ’embrace failure’ … but it is TOUGH!!!! 🙂

  132. You are not alone Tara! I just came out of a couple month funk that my first NaNoWriMo caused. I’m back on the horse and chomping at the bit to kick doubt out of the way! Great post.

  133. “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” has long been an adage I’ve repeated to myself. The other thing about failure is that sometimes when something doesn’t work, it helps you realize that it wasn’t a good idea/fit for you in the first place. This can be a very powerful, freeing thing.

  134. My husband has been telling my son that the only way to learn chess is to lose at it. I have always feared being a failure so I avoid it by not risking anything. Finally I am seeing that failure is a step in learning and wisdom is the greatest of all achievements. Thank you Tara, for sharing your wisdom which encourages me to be willing to fall because in the falling, I might find out I am flying!

  135. This could not come at a more perfect time for me. I have been through so much in the past few years – losing jobs, losing a house – that failure seems like my middle name. I signed up for 12X12 to give myself a reason to write. This blog post was exactly what I needed to feel like I am moving up and out. Thanks so much, Tara.

  136. Loved the post, Tara! Thanks!

  137. Shannon Abercrombie

    Failure is such a great word/concept to confront. Great post.

  138. Ohhhh, yes! And some of the “failures” may come out of the drawer, or idea box, again one day…to be successes! Thank you for the pep talk!
    Carrie Brown

  139. I love PiBoIdMo and Tara is soooo fabulous!

  140. Darlene Frybarger

    This was so insightful. Most of my life my expectations for myself have been so high that I forced myself to feel like a failure. It took me a long time to learn how to define success – situation/idea whose time has not come yet. This post has reminded me that no matter what happens, there is always something more positive on the other side.

    Darlene Frybarger

  141. Thank you for such encouragement, Tara. I especially love the parts about evolving goals, rejections being accomplishments, and the idea that if we’re doing, we’re not failures. Sometimes it feels that way for sure, so I thank you for setting us straight. You are a beautiful inspiration and I can’t wait to get my hands on Monstore!
    Beth Thaler

  142. Thanks, Tara! There are times I get discouraged, but most of the time I am very proud of my “binder” full of rejections. Like you said, at least I’m writing….and having fun doing it!

  143. Just got my first rejection letter in the mail–it was so exciting! Keeping it for motivation. Can’t wait for the next 12 months!

  144. “you’re willing to do anything to emerge from that funk” wise words, I’ve been there, and you are right, failure does make you fight.

  145. Thank you Tara! “There’s no such thing as a failure who keeps trying”

  146. Thank you Tara! What a wonderful post on failing to give up!

    Kirsti Call

  147. I loved going back and reading this post. Thank you Tara! My PB manuscript for January was an idea I came up with in last year’s PiBoMoId. 🙂

  148. Wow, after reading this post I felt inclined to look up the meaning of failure / famous quotes etc. I’m gonna go with Oprah; “I do not believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.”
    Only thing is, sometimes the process of writing Children’s Picture Books is hard and I am not too sure how much I enjoy the process. Lol.

  149. Hi Tara,
    Being a failure is fantastic. For the right person (I fit this category) failure can bring about the desire to learn more, the motivation required to try again and again. It also, and possibly most importantly, keeps us humble. All winners have failed at some point. Steven King could wallpaper his writing room with his rejection letters – what don’t kill us makes us stronger. 😀

  150. P.S. I cried when I read my first rejection letter – they were tears of joy. The rejection letter from Penguin was a letter of encouragement asking me to submit more (which I failed to do :/ ) IDIOT.

  151. It’s amazing how a writer’s mind works. I, too, should be congratulating myself for my writing accomplishments to date (several stories published in anthologies and magazines and online), but I feel like a failure because I have not yet a picture book published. But you’re right, it is this thought that keeps pushing me to want to do better and to actively keep pursuing my dream to make it happen.
    Jo Hart

  152. Congratulations on your upcoming books! We are all looking forward to seeing them.
    I know what you mean. I’m always talking myself out of worrying about the flow of work, but when those sample copies come, or I get an exciting new opportunity, all the concerns evaporate.
    One good thing about blogs and groups is that we know we aren’t alone with our moments of fear and frustration.

  153. Tara, thanks for the words of encouragement. I’m new to the group I am glad that I found it. I’m excited to get to know you all better. Thanks for putting it all together Julie.
    Linda Todd

  154. Thanks for the inspiring post, Tara. I just joined the group and I’m excited to be a part of this and produce some manuscripts.

    Rebecca Hirsch

  155. Dear Tara,
    I really appreciated your thoughts on failure. They can be applied to so much in life besides writing (and ice skating). When my children are disappointed in something they have tried, I tell them that they have haven’t failed but that they are learning. It’s funny how we don’t always listen to our own advice we give to others… Thank you for your post.
    Michelle Nott

  156. Tara, I love this post! Thank you!

  157. Tara! thank you so much for a wonderful post………you’re an inspiration 🙂

  158. I work for a large retail outlet (we all know who that is). Each day I walk down the alley past the display of PBs. I instinctively look for my book. Then I think… “I haven’t written one yet!”.
    I am a published author, but no PBs yet.

  159. Great post, Tara!

  160. Tara, you’re an inspiration and an encouragement!

  161. I’m not sure if I’ve failed my first 12×12 task – to comment in good time 🙂 but thank you Tara. When doing a yoga balance if I wobble my teacher says it’s fine, your brain will learn to do it less wobbly next time so yes I should apply the same principles to my writing!

  162. What a wonderful way of looking at failure. I guess people have said things like this in many different ways, but I am actually almost looking forward to getting my first official rejection in February. I was scared of it, but not I just see it as a neccessary bump in the road to success. thanks Tara. 🙂

  163. pj lyons

    I suppose what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Here’s to perseverance!

  164. failure can be hard to deal with but hopefully a person can move on after a time of healing, but regret is my biggest enemy. so i failed, ill do better next time. but how can i go back in time to do something i never did to get rid of my regret? i cant. push through the feeling of failure so you never have to live with the feeling of regret.

  165. Thanks for this. I had a book come out in 2011 and another in 2012, and since I don’t have one under contract now I feel like it’s all grinding to a halt! Looks like wild success to everyone but me. 🙂
    Did two new drafts in Jan- part of a series I’m working on. Progress.
    Molly Beth Griffin

  166. Tara,
    Thank you for this. I thought that two picture book contracts would make me feel like a “real” writer, as opposed to a one-hit wonder, and then of course after contract #2 arrived I started thinking “Well, actually, I need at least three contracts….” But it is good to have evolving goals, right? And I love your attitude that “if you’re doing, you’re not a failure.” Thanks for that perspective!

  167. I just joined yesterday and reading this was a great start. I like “My goals evolved.” Yes! We are all entitled to change our minds and level of ambition at any time.

  168. Tara, thank you so much for your post! Great perspective, and I loved the reminder of, “If you’re doing, you’re not a failure.” I TRY to tell myself that when times are tough–try to remind myself that at least I’m pursuing my dreams, but it’s lovely to hear it from you as well!

  169. Yes–if you’re doing, you’re not a failure. Though it’s easy to feel like you aren’t getting traction. My version of this mantra is “Progress–not perfection.” Strive to improve, eat chocolate, know my work is getting better, repeat.

    This month I wrote a PB and revised, and sent out, another.

  170. Tara, You are so NOT a failure, but I understand the misgivings & fear that all of us feel (I’m reading Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie’s memoir; he hid behind the sofa when a new book was released for fear it wasn’t good enough).
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts & helping us realize that we are not the only ones to feel that we are not successful, and showing us that such feelings can be put to productive use!

  171. Thanks for the encouragement!

  172. Thanks for the wonderful perspective. I am sometimes so overwhelmed by my own lack of confidence in my work that I reject it before anyone else has the chance. It’s nice to think of rejection as an accomplishment, as it will be an accomplishment for me. I have never really put myself or my work out there – part of the reason I’m here. To get that first rejection means that I have taken the next step. Thanks for the inspiration.

  173. Barbara Cairns
    February 1, 2013

    I’ve revised one of my picture books, rewritten a chapter of my MG historical novel from 3rd person to 1st person POV, and submitted an article to Guardian Angel Kids magazine in January. Love being a part of 12 x 12! Thanks.Julie!

  174. Thanks Tara. I hope you get that contract! I was hoping to have agent by the end of 2012 and that didn’t happen. But I did receive some awesome advice from some of the agents that rejected my work.

    -Rena Traxel

  175. Thank you for reminding us that it’s a process. I have writing goals set this year and I’m hoping to get one thing published somewhere. Fairly vague, but it increases my chances of meeting it. Love your post!

  176. Thanks, Tara for the friendly reminder that failures (mistakes, disappointing results) are how we learn. Now, to unfreeze from my fear of failure and get busy doing!

  177. Thanks Tara. It’s reassuring to know that even published authors struggle with self-doubt and the fear of failure. I am still waiting for that first publishing contract. But I firmly believe that I will get there, if I keep working hard and don’t give up. The only thing I know for sure is if I give up now, I will never be published and that, in my eyes, would be failure.

  178. Thank you for helping me to use failure as a motivator and doing as a sign of success.
    Cynthia Dudczak

  179. Tara–Thank you for your inspiring and motivational post. I feel like I am at least doing something about wanting to become a published author by being active, though I know it may only be a pipe dream. Reading your post has made me realize that even published authors have fears like those of us still learning the ropes.

  180. Definitely interesting especially the wanting more phase of your career! It will be fun to see your Monstore book and good luck with getting more contracts this year 🙂 I am striving to get accepted and/or rejected this year with a MS thanks for the encouragement!

  181. Tara, I think your doing Wundruffly!! 🙂 I’m so proud of you!

  182. What a great and thought provoking post! Poppy

  183. OH MY! I feel like a failure… a lot! I failed last year. I only got 5 new ms written… May was my last one. But life gets in the way and my writing gets put on the back burner. So I’m motivated to write 12 this year. I am a GOLDen member and plan to take advantages of the forum. I have a new book out this year already, but I’m like you… my goals have revised. :0)
    Cheers to the New Year!!!

  184. Christine Connolly

    I am hoping for one! One is better than none!

  185. Great post. Having fun with the 12 X 12, but feeling I’m not exploring the forum enough!

  186. Thanks Tara for some excellent thoughts to start out this year. I need to remember that every step in the writing process is an accomplishment, not just the end goal.

  187. Have I ever expierenced a failure that led to success? It’s funny, I’ve never thought of failure, really. Disappointment, set-backs, re and cross examination of self, challenges, bumps-in-the-road, all of those, yes, but not failure.
    And indeed! Several set-backs have led to success.
    It is always good for me to hear the stories of others.
    Thanks, Tara!

  188. Paula VanEnkevort

    What an awesome post! You have a great perspective. It’s easy to fixate on an end goal – getting published – but not to celebrate our smaller successes along the way.

  189. Thanks for the inspiration, Tara. This is right where I find myself in the new year. You can’t get rejected unless you submit, right? Looking forward to an awesome year. It’s so important to celebrate even the little things.

  190. It’s been a long work week, so naturally I forgot to add my name! LOL. Doesn’t change the fact this was a great post, Tara. – Kirk Kraft

  191. Great job! Takes baby steps before the giant jump.- Kristen Fulton

  192. Hello Tara and Julie. Pam Courtney, here. I’ve often heard that failing is a necessary stepping stone to success. Although it never feels like it, what I’ve learned is…I LEARN. I learn what mistakes not to make. I learn to persevere. I learn to make really good glasses of lemonade. I LEARN. Thanks for reminding me.

  193. If you fail at least you tried… and hopefully you’ve learned something along the way. –Connie Dowell

  194. Kimberly L. Walker

    Definitely having to ’embrace the failure’ as I didn’t finish my picture book for January and I’m disappointed in myself but life happens. Considering I’ve never written a book before, I do feel good about starting. So here’s to everyone that started but didn’t finish for whatever reason…let’s make it happen for the remaining 11!

  195. Thank you for the great insight. I am determined to make 2013 a publishing year! Like that. I am excited and feel energize and love 12×12. Thanks for a great post.

  196. In trainings from my business, we’re taught to collect 100 “NOs.” I have a feeling delving into the publishing market will feel the same! Good thing to keep in mind as I start submitting work this year.

  197. As usual, I am a day late and dollar short! I still wanted to comment and say that I enjoyed your post. It is so easy to get down on yourself. Pursuing our goals in an accomplishment in itself!

  198. Tara, thank you for your post. I think what I appreciate the most about the tone of your post and about the tone of everyone I have heard from so far in the 12X12 group is it that this is not about one against another but all of us keeping our spirits up and forging ahead as we each have our own individual stories to tell, each of which is deserving to be told. I remember once interviewing Norman Bridwell about his start with Clifford the Big Red Dog and he told me how much it hurt when he saw an editor drop his manuscript in the trash before he finished walking out the door. His work was rescued from a slush pile by a reader who believed in its possibilities. That’s why it strikes me that we not only need writers who believe in themselves but readers and editors who are willing to take a chance, to stick their necks out for something they love.

    I am happy for your success and look forward to reading ‘Monstore.’ I wish you more success in accordance with what you wish for yourself, though I wonder if anyone ever achieves all that they hope of achieving (“a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?” as Robert Browning wrote). And while I agree with Samuel Johnson who said, “The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope,” I try to remind myself that is good not to measure one’s happiness in numbers (even when it comes to numbers of manuscripts sold…although right now, personally, I would be so thrilled with one!). And while our natural inclinations may be to go from hope to hope, I hope you and all of us will take time to revel in the moment of our accomplishments (even if it is simply the joy of writing something we love that is yet to be published) and trust where our imagination and passion may lead us.

  199. I didn’t make the deadline for the drawing BUT I did complete a PB in January so I’m leaving a comment. I appreciate the most the comraderie writers have for and with each other. We revel in each individual’s success and encourage those unpublished to keep going. It’s like being hugged all the time!

  200. Ah yes, been failing for years. Failed to get a PB contract, failed to make the deadline, failed to figure out this 12×12 program.
    still getting up and dusting myself off. looking forward to 2013 as a winner year!

  201. Great Post! Thanks Tara!

  202. Great post! Too true. I’ve thought for years about being a children’s author, even jotted down story ideas. But up until January that’s as far as it got. Then I just decided I had to write and try. The only true failure is to never ever try!

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