Today I’m fortunate and grateful to present an essay by author Pamela Morris. Read on for her personal experience with failure and how she coped with it. Please be sure to check out her website and grab a book or two. Thanks!
Guest: Pamela Morris
Turning Failure Into The Road To Success
Failure. It’s a bitter, dry pill to swallow. It can wedge itself in the back of your throat. It can make you gag. Failure is never pleasant and it’s not what we strive for.
My first published novel, The Virgin of Greenbrier, was released in 2006. It wasn’t the genre I’d ever imagined myself being published in, erotica-romance, but I was still over the moon at this taste of success. Bound To Be Bitten, my personal response to the whole nonsense of sparkling vampires, was published in 2010. As with the novels before it, it was erotica. I struggled horribly trying to make it what the publisher wanted because in my heart of hearts, it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to write horror and murder-mysteries. I officially put down my erotica pen and picked up another.
Blood of the Scarecrow, a paranormal-themed murder-mystery, was the result. The joy I’d always found in writing returned. It was published in 2013 by a new and small indie publishing house. But in 2014 they decided to close their doors. I was devastated and heartbroken. I was back to near zero! Every doubt in the book (no pun intended) came flooding in.
Had I just wasted ten years of my life going through all these steps? What was the point? Who cared about any of this but me? My friends and family? Maybe, but let’s be honest here, they are partial. They don’t want to hurt my feelings, see me sad, or be part of the reason I give it up. I kept telling myself that all I needed was the right person to read something and give me a good review, someone who has no emotional stake in my happiness or misery, A Person Who Matters.
Out of overwhelming frustration and dismay, I gave up submitting queries to traditional publishers and agents. The rejections became unbearable. The idea of vanity publishing made me cringe. It was something I swore up and down I’d never do. Only the lowest of the low and most pathetic would ever do that. What sort of sad-sack failure would stoop to something so abominable? Not me! No, never me!
Yes, me. Failure and those same friends and family and co-workers who continually asked, “When’s the next book coming out?” drove me to it; that and my deep-seeded sense of self. I’m a story teller. What’s the point of being a story teller if no one ever hears those stories? The characters demanded to be heard.
Once the choice was made, it took another six months to create the final manuscript and cover art for That’s What Shadows Are Made Of, another murder-mystery with overtones of horror and the supernatural, and unleash it to the world. Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon, a revision of Blood of the Scarecrow, followed shortly after. After ten years, I had my first series of book signings in 2016. A third novel, a classic ghost story with a twist, No Rest For The Wicked was released in late August last year and A Person That Matters told me I don’t suck. Slow online sales and the lack of reviews still gets me down, but I keep pushing forward and trying.
Why? There’s no choice. It’s my passion. As I mentioned to a fellow author not too long ago, I can’t NOT write. When I am going through a dry spell I get anxious. I even start to feel a little guilty. Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees, I speak for my characters. I am their voice. I am their eyes and ears. It’s up to me to tell their stories because there is absolutely no one else out there who can. As insane as it sounds, these characters chose me and me alone.
This whole concept struck hard while I was working on Dark Hollow Road. This book, classified as a psychological horror, is truly the darkest, most disturbing thing I’ve ever written. Where did all the despair, pain, fear and blind need for revenge come from to write this? I had a happy childhood! I’ve led a pretty blessed life all in all. How could all that horror come solely from within me? It’s scary to find yourself writing such a thing, but I couldn’t NOT write it. That would be failing.
Failure. It can take you down with it, but it can also push you harder. Had the original publishers of my first murder-mystery not failed, I’d not have been forced to seek other avenues. I may not have had to have worked so hard to get where I am, but I’m paving my own road and not all of those bricks are engraved with a big, fat F. I still hope for a traditional publisher to give me the time of day. Until then, I have little choice but to write on without them.