seeking failure


Return of the Butterflies. 2018. Mixed media and digital collage.

Last fall, when asked to talk about my creative business failures in a women’s business group I’m part of, I realized that I didn’t have any.

Not because I’m so super-fabulous and amazing, but because I couldn’t recall a time recently when I’ve put myself out there in any way that would allow for me to fail. This wasn’t a terribly surprising realization. I’ve written before on this blog about how I stopped writing as a young adult after having a few poems rejected by literary journals. So, I already knew I was risk-averse.

But I’d never stopped to consider how this was impacting my desire to share my work with the world and do big things. 

In seeking to understand my fear of failure, I began by watching Jia Jiang’s excellent TED Talk, What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection. And then I read his book, Rejection Proof: how I beat fear and became invincible through 100 days of rejection. Now, I recommend Jiang's TED talk to clients all the time because I just love the idea of intentionally seeking out rejection as a way of overcoming the catastrophic fears many of us carry about rejection and failure.

For myself, I decided collecting rejections from literary journals, magazines, and art galleries would be a specific goal for 2018.

I set aside a page in my 2018 creative dream journal for recording these rejections, just to make sure I keep on track. Already I’ve noticed myself becoming less risk-averse and more emotionally detached from the sting of rejection. And in the process, as would be expected, I’ve had some successes I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Several of my works were published by Memoir Magazine at the end of 2017 and two pieces were part of Fusion Art’s Women Artists Quarterly Exhibition, where one of my works won honorable mention. You can view the exhibit here. 

And then, last Monday, I received word that three of my works are being published in the Spring issue of Somerset Digital Studio. This is my favorite magazine for digital artists.

Digital Studio Spring 2018 issue

The funny thing is that Digital Studio was the first place I’d submitted work last fall as part of my failure project and when I’d never heard anything back from them, I added a tick to my rejection column. So, when I received a complementary copy of the magazine in the mail last week with a note congratulating me on being published in the issue, I was at first confused and then delighted. It’s exciting to see my artwork in print, but honestly what means more to me is that I see it as a symbol of the courage I'm nurturing. 

I’d love to hear from you. What’s worked for you in overcoming fear of rejection or failure? What successes have you celebrated as a result of gathering your courage to put yourself out there in the world? Let me know in the comments. 

And, as always, much love to you.



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