I’m stealing the idea for this post from Mike Brooks, and his podcast about his five biggest failures of 2014.
Mike notes that…
Of course I don’t see failures as a negative. To me failure is simply a necessary part of success.
It’s my sort of thing – I’m good at failure.
So – where and how have I failed in 2014?1
First and foremost – my PhD
Granted, I closed my PhD track and discussed my thesis and I did quite a good job of it all things considered, and I got my PhD, and yet it did not amount to anything.
A failure, by any means: any dream of getting a job in research or even better starting my own consulting, went absolutely nowhere and remained just that, a dream.
My PhD is currently as useful as a hood ornament for my bicycle, in a country that needs (or craves, really) low-wage, young and unattached workers, not geologists specialized in renewable energies.
Second – of course in 2014 my Italian language blog, strategie evolutive closed down
This was a failure in the sense that apparently in seven years I was not able to connect with my readers. Many complained about my posts being too high-brow and had problems commenting, others decided I was just an arrogant show-off or, as one commentator aptly put, a spite-fueled blogger writing beautifully about stuff not worthy of any regard. The fact that, in the second half of 2013, I started posting regularly about my ebooks sold through Amazon did not help, as it evidently this irritated many readers.
The attempt at starting a conversation failed – and strategie evolutive being my blog, I must take full responsibility for this failed communication.
Third failure – my writing
My writing still gets rave reviews from people that routinely give rave reviews to barely articulate rubbish. What am I to make of it?
Sales are not that hot, either.
Fourth – deadlines
I failed in meeting deadlines too often. This has caused me to lose some sales, and certainly gave a very bad picture of myself, in a professional sense.
Fifth – aborted projects
I had to abort or drop at least two projects I was very enthusiastic about (the Aculeo & Amunet spinoff about Centurion Britannicus and his Legionaries, and the Corsair series of short novels), due to lack of time, strength or motivation. I feel really bad about this, as both works were carefully planned and I had high hopes for them.
So, ok, these are, to me, my 2014 epic failures.
What about them?
Can I squeeze any good out of this pile of rubble?
Well, first and foremost, the whole bunch of failures underscores the classic Buddhist precept, that expectations lead to suffering.
Not that I needed any reminder, of course, but it’s ok.
The failure on the PhD front is a solid lesson about targets – if your target is getting a PhD, you’ll get it, and find yourself stranded afterwards. My error was to plan my course with the PhD as a destination and not as a way point. Right now, what I need to do is redesign my work and experiences, and turn my PhD into something marketable.
strategie evolutive taught me a lot about writing in the seven years I kept it running, and taught me an awful lot about readers and social circles when I closed it. The plan is to apply here what I learned there, and make the connection with my readers (if any) more sound and reciprocally satisfactory, helping Karavansara grow steadily in 2015.
But I will not dumb down my posts – there’s enough dumbed down contents out there without me adding to the stream.
My writing is ok, really – I am convinced of it.
Which means I have to improve it. I don’t think of myself as anything but a bottom-feeder trying to sneak into the mid-list, but I’d like to be a good mid-lister.
Also, I have to keep in mind that reviews are for readers, not for writers – so if I get the same evaluation as a piece of rubbish… well, hopefully the readers that enjoyed that rubbish will look up my stuff too, and maybe like it enough to keep reading me.
The perceived decline in sales is certainly a consequence of the shutdown of my Italian blog – I need a new platform (or whatever the thing’s called) and/or a new promotional strategy: I’ll have to work on it.
Schedules and deadlines – nothing here to do but apply a stricter discipline.
As for the aborted projects – they are not dead, just sleeping. Fact is, there are so many ideas out there, that finding something to write is pretty damn easy – and if you jot down a list of possible stories, based on the ideas you get every moment, the page is going to fill-up pretty fast.
But we’ve got do make choices.
In 2014, I decided to sacrifice my two new series, and publish my first novel instead. I do not regret the choice, and if I feel bad about those unwritten stories… well, as I said, they are not dead, they are just waiting.
So, all in all, 2014 was a failure-riddled year, but also a great learning year.
Let’s hope my failures in 2015 will be even better – after all, I’ve got some great plans for this year, each one of them a possible failure.
And as we are at it, considering this is the weekend, here’s some aptly-themed music…
- of course I’ll take into account only those things over which I had any control ↩