February 13, 2013

On Risk and Failure

A few weeks, I was hityet again!by a bout of the Doubt Monsters. 

Ah yes, the Doubt Monsters, those nasty blood-drinking things. I think every creative person suffers this ailment from time to time, but for some reason those Doubts really like attacking me! Or maybe I'm just emotionally puny? Hmm....


I was feeling rather ho-hum a few Saturdays ago so I plunked myself on the sofa and proceeded to flip through the channels. Since The Millionaire Matchmaker wasn't on, I ended up watching a show on PBS where three college kids drove across the U.S. and interviewed successful people along the way. In the episode I watched, the kids spoke with a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (holla! i love astronomy!) and they asked him if he had ever faced rejection in his career. 

The scientist smiled a little and rattled off a long list of his stumbling blocks: rejected from grad schools, rejected from jobs, rejected ten times from the NASA space program. So what kept him going through these failures? He answered with a quote:

Those who dare risk defeat.
Those who don't ensure it. 

At this point, a huge light bulb went off in my brain and I raced to scribble down the quote. I've been thinking about it ever since, letting it simmer in the back of my head and trying to apply it to my own endeavors. Mainly, to writing. 

There's power behind these words, don't you think? I feel rejuvenated every time I read them, to press ahead, to keep going. And most importantly, to take that risk, no matter the outcome or the heartache. Because as long as I'm daring to dream, then that dream could someday come true. But if I stop trying, I'm ensuring my own defeat. 

So, thank you, PBS! Thank you, JPL scientist! Today, I'm daring to dream.

Now, I'm off to do some writing!


  1. this is an incredibly inspiring quote, not just for writers, but anyone struggling to make their dreams come true. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, no problem! I'm more than happy to share! I think this might be my new favorite quote!

  2. Great quote. It's funny how the universe sometimes comes through for us when we're feeling down, right? Go Caroline! I believe in you! :)

    1. Ah, I totally didn't think about it that way, but you're more than right! Sometimes the universe does help us out, eh? :)

  3. The Doubt Monsters have made themselves pretty comfortable in my head over the last several months. They're about to be evicted! Thanks for the inspiration and the great quote Caroline... Very timely. Hope you have a great Valentine's Day!

  4. Bah, it's the worst feeling! From what I hear it never really goes away altogether, either. But this is really inspiring.

    Yay for more writing!

  5. Wow, I was going through the same thing at the same time, and just broke through the crowd of Doubt Monsters and their mosh pit in my brain. It was like being Dorothy and stepping out into Technicolor Oz.

    Hope your writing is going well, Caroline!

  6. This is totally true! So many things in my life have happened almost as a fluke ... or in other words a very precise balance of just the right things lined up at the right time!!!

    Each time I send out a query letter or get a rejection, I try to remember that. Not everyone is going to fall head-over-heels in love with my story. But they don't have to: it just has to reach the people it's meant to.

  7. So true. Thanks for the inspiring (and timely) post!

  8. Love that quote :) The mantra that's been getting me through the start of revisions is "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (by Lao-Tzu) because it all feels so overwhelming. Writing a novel is such a huge long path, and it's hard to keep the faith when you know SOME form of rejection might still lay between 'THE END' and publication.

    But you are so talented, and must keep writing - I want to read your books plz k thx :)

  9. I love this! The quote ties in with my word of 2013: bravery. The Doubt Monster has hit me a few times over the last month or so of querying, but I haven't let any rejection stop me from moving forward and trying again.

    I've also started a new book, which made me fall in love with writing all over again (versus revising which is all I did in 2012). It helps keep the Doubt Monster at bay.

    Happy writing! :)