On Failure and How to Keep Writing

When I was an undergrad in college, an English professor once told me I was a failure.

I had a track record of failure.

I was never going to be someone whom others could rely on, and he couldn't put any faith in me.

He then copied the entire department in an email stating this so that all of his colleagues would also be aware that I was a failure.

I hated this man for years. "What an asshole," I would say. But it turns out that this was the best thing to ever happen to me.

From that day forward, I dedicated myself to work. I knew it was going to take a long time to prove myself or to experience even a modicum of success. I fell in love with, and became obsessed with, my writing.

I'm not there yet, that level of success I want, and that's fine. I write. I write slowly, I write too-long stories and too-short novels, I write in a style that is not contemporary or fashionable. I just received my 100th rejection letter. I keep writing.

A reader is just like this professor. The reader will never give a shit about who I am or what my life circumstances are. The reader will never have time for excuses or be privy to the struggles it takes for me to get up every day and put words together at 5 a.m. The reader will only have the story on paper, the track record, on which to judge me, and then deem me a success or a failure. So I keep writing. The only thing I can do is not be a failure to myself.