I’ve been writing a lot about success, but what about failure? There are two types of failure in the knitwear design field. First, the cold hard rejection of a failed submission. Second, the soul-sucking feeling of being a failure.
It’s not all acceptances and contracts around here. I’d say for every pattern that gets accepted, I have at least five that were rejected.
At first, every rejection was like a stab in the heart. Why didn’t she like my idea?!?! I’d be crushed for days; discouraged from submitting again. But now I just look at it as an opportunity to be a better fit somewhere else. Several times I’ve gotten a design that was originally rejected from one source, accepted into another. It was just a better fit.
When a design gets rejected, I move it into a folder named “Homeless”. When a new call goes out, I always look through that folder first to see if anything there would fit. If I feel like something would, I’m already ahead of the game by being able to use a previous submission again.
Occasionally I end up self-publishing my homeless designs. Turning failures into success is motivating. Mercurial and Mormorio are two examples where I’ve made a lot more money by self-publishing than I would have had they been accepted for publication.
As hard as the rejection is, the worst kind of failure is the second — the kind that we make up when comparing ourselves to others. I do this too much. As a creative trying to “make it” in business, I’m constantly looking at what other successful people are doing. What makes them successful? And why isn’t what I’m doing making me as successful?
Some of this comes from envy. I’m jealous that others seem to come by success so easily when I’m working my butt off. How do they do it? Is it just luck of timing? Or are they really just so much more creatively brilliant than I am? So many times I find myself saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”
But some of it comes from something else, something I don’t know the right word for. I don’t envy people that are successful by recycling the same design again and again. I have little respect for the “designer” that publishes the same shawl one hundred times with a different lace border. I have no desire to do that, and hope I never fall into that trap. But I hate that they become successful when doing this. It’s not fair.
Among all this envy and whatever-the-word-is I find that I’m still able to be excited and happy for my friends that get acceptances even when I fail. I know they work hard and I love to see their success. We can’t all be in all the things all the time. If one of us get’s published, that’s something to be excited about. There’s a camaraderie among the hard workers. We need to band together to collectively out-design those pretenders!
All this brings me back to success. Success from hard work is much more satisfying than success from luck or whatever-the-word-is. I have faith that no matter how much of a failure I feel like, if I keep working hard, I’ll find my own success in my own time. Already things are starting to happen for me. Now I need to keep positive, and keep moving forward.