Not the most right I’ve ever been

I’ve been in a lot of discussions lately about how we all, but especially writers, talk very loudly about anything you could possibly call a success and stay silent about everything else. It’s not as if everyone else is rooting for you to fail, but it is that the curated good news boast has consequences. There is the ever-present risk of being boring, which is not to be ignored, but also most of us are not succeeding most of the time.

So when you’re exposed to constant hurrahs and your own writing isn’t going anywhere, you get split between pleased for whoever it is and, well, not pleased for yourself. Then five minutes later, the successful person suddenly isn’t successful at the moment and they go through the same range of feelings as you just did.

I know this, I knew this, but I did not appreciate how much it can affect people. I knew how it affected me but we all think something is just us and we don’t appreciate the scale of it. We especially don’t appreciate how amplified all this is on social media, or at least I didn’t.

A conclusion that every one of these recent discussions has come up with is that we should talk about our failures as well as our successes. How we should be more honest.

I’m going to be more honest with you. It appears that I can’t quite make it all the way to total, bare honesty, so instead of flat-out admitting I was wrong and that something has failed, I’ve had to first try setting the scene like this. Don’t think of me as a complete failure, think of me as a hero for revealing those failings.

If you would like to stop reading now, I would appreciate it if you took away with you the belief that I am a mensch.

If you’re not coming back and you also promise never to check, you could take away the belief that I am roguishly handsome, too.

My name is William and I haven’t written scripts for thirty minutes every day this year.

That was my big drive for 2019 and it follows last year’s push to read more scripts. Curiously enough, now that script reading vow is over, I’ve accidentally carried that one on and actually have read a script every day anyway. If I do it again today, after we’ve talked here, then my total for the year will be 133 scripts read.

But only 26 days of scriptwriting every day.

I could make excuses and I don’t really see any way either of us can stop me. So there was a kind of holiday day or three, which was complicated. There were some days when I was working to midnight and then up for the next thing at 4am, which was exhausting. And there was a friend dying, which was shit.

Right now I’m five days behind on this vow. There’s a bit of me that thinks I can make up that time in the sense of doing, say, an hour a day for a while. And there’s a bit of me that thinks I can make up that time in the sense of just pretending to you that I’ve done it.

But I think the thing to do here and probably every time either of us fail to do something, is to forget the past, forget thinking about what we haven’t done, and instead go do something now.

Fail wail

Now this is a distinction. I am proud of this, though even typing those words to you I just paused to scratch my head. I am proud, it’s just possible that I shouldn’t be.

For it turns out that I am so good at failing, at completely screwing everything up and at being rejected and fired that I’ve just been interviewed about it.

The American podcast series The Successful Failure podcast has a new 45-minute episode devoted to just how badly I do things. Me. The whole show.

Okay, also to how I cope, when I do, and what coping mechanisms I have, when I have any.

The Successful Failure is really about taking bad things in one’s career and learning from them. Before I went on it, I listened to the previous episodes and the recurring theme is about specific failures that have then directly led to specific successes. Maybe I’m lacking in specific successes but where do you want to start with the failures?

I’ve known the producer/presenter Gigi Peterkin for years so she knew to steer me away from topics like my dress sense and hair style which will come back in to fashion, they will. Instead she focused on a few key writing failures and I will tell you she got more out of me than I’d intended to reveal.

I won’t tell you what. And you know how usually when someone writes to you like this, you know they’re going to end with a link and they’re trying to get you to listen?

Not this time.

I will include the link because I get twitchy if I don’t link you out to somewhere more interesting and The Successful Failure podcast is more interesting.

But I am truly fine if you never listen to the episode about me. Seriously, I’m good with that. Forget I ever mentioned it.

The Successful Failure podcast is on iTunes and also at its official site. One thing I can tell you from having done the show is that I’ve been told who else is lined up for an appearance. The show’s got some truly interesting people in the next few weeks.