Probably one of my most brilliant failures was pitching my historical novel to agents at the local writers’ conference.
If you’ve ever had a child, or have ever spent years on a creative work, you know that you love your baby with the fierceness of a mama bear. I had to sit down at a table with an agent, who has to be tough to be in business, and try to convince her that she wants more of my manuscript. Well, it didn’t always work out. It was like dipping your hand into boiling hot water.
The first woman to run for president, Victoria Woodhull, knew that it wouldn’t work either. In 1871, long before women had the right to vote, she announced her candidacy. She was nominated by the newly formed Equal Rights Party in 1872.
She could not even try to vote, because she was in jail on voting day. She had devoted an issue of her weekly publication to covering an adulterous affair of a prominent man in order to highlight the sexual double-standard. U.S. Federal Marshals arrested her on the charges of an obscene newspaper. She was acquitted six months later.
Woodhull went on to move to England, marry an English banker, and support her beliefs in a magazine that she published from 1892 to 1901. For all my work, I went on to find an agent after many, many pitches. The most important thing I learned, though, is the skill of talking about my work. Through all those failures, it’s a lesson I can take with me no matter what I do.
I needed to fail.