What follows is all the things this author has failed at.
I feel cheery as I type this. Like getting ready for a tall glass of cold water after a hot, muggy, impossible day. Like a nice rinse on top of it. Getting cleaned up, clothed, rested, before putting on brightness and warmth and trying again, more humanly this time, until we need to take a glass of water and rinse off all the non-human stuff again. Non-human stuff. Bitterness, polemic, sarcasm, curses, regret.
The rite-of-passage for children becoming adults is, increasingly, no longer a valid driver’s license or a road trip or a hair on your chest—it’s nodding sagely at the notion that “we’re only human after all.”
Only human—as though joy or satisfaction or a small job done well were not the most human things.
So that’s why we’re admitting our failures right now. To stop identifying with the failures. We’ll end up admitting them again. I want to rinse this stuff off and try again. And not have any baggage when it’s time to learn something new.
Failing upward—I like succinct phrases like that. But here’s more a mouthful, more a fine broth that gets better the more you let it settle and simmer:
Jakoś to będzie.
Yakosh toe benjay.
That’s Polish for (essentially): “Act, without worry, for it will all work out in the end.”
An active (act without worry) and a passive (it will all work out) promise. Works and Faith.
Let’s start again, listing times we’ve acted and failed, because we’re going to act again. Without worry. For it will all work out in the end.
Here’s the Author’s personal professional failures. The reason for listing these isn’t to throw a sad Internet party. Like I said before, this is all about the cleansing effect. There’s another word for that, a Greek word: catharsis. Catharsis is the “cleansing and purging of the emotions.” It’s that feeling of your feelings being in order after watching a good drama or laughing with friends.
Of course, stories do catharsis best. That’s what stories are for. So I hope you find some hope from my story.
The formula is: A) list a failure, B) list a rewrite of that failure, C) try and do the same with yours, D) list your small and big wins too.
1. Wrote three uneven novel manuscripts, started but never finished dozens of short stories, and the only thing I’ve submitted and had published were two poems.
Rewrite: Finished three novel manuscripts, actually finished two or three short stories and learned lots of writing practice from the rest, decided that I wanted better for myself so now I’m pushing toward a deadline for a short story contest at the end of this year, and hey! Someone actually published my writing.
2. Started learning coding on Udemy and then stopped. Twice. In fact, I’ll link the course. Each time I keep stopping on the choose-your-own-adventure section, because I’m a perfectionist and I want to create a story that I can show off (on this website).
Rewrite: Nothing is stopping me from finishing that Udemy course. And it’s what got me started on this game dev journey in the first place. Without it, I might not have tried to self-teach myself at all.
3. Tendency to pick up hobby for a number of weeks and get through 2/3 of a course or a book and then stop for a few months, in pursuit of another hobby I left off a few months before that, leaving gaps in learning and feeling like a perpetual intermediate beginner.
Rewrite: I’ve now started a blog where I have a lot less leg room to go traipsing off into the woods, and, if I do go off the beaten path, I can document what I learned here and have a bread crumb trail back to the main path when that particular jaunt is done. I’ve created a new paradigm to get stuff done in. And though I’m ready to learn things in a faster, more organized, thorough manner, at least what I’ve learned so far is still there, a thin foundation, a few steps closer than I was before I started any of this haphazard learning. And learning is learning is learning.
4. Quit my day job, had a plan, tweaked the plan, forgot the plan, still don’t know what I’m doing.
Rewrite: Got a new job that’ll let me meet new people and still leave me time to write and learn. Adopting a new mindset: jakoś to będzie. Will be honest about my mistakes. Don’t see myself staying in a slump. Patience.
5. Moodiness. Inconsistency. Not walking the talk.
Rewrite: I know what I work on. Consistency is all about right now, day-by-day. I’m walking the walk right now. And when I’m moody, I can always listen to “Fresh” by Kool & the Gang.
That list could be longer, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s the sum of my main mistakes, and I’m sure yours fall in the same types of categories. Not my categories, but your particular habitual categories. Maybe you struggle more with workaholism, or not taking yourself seriously, or you simply don’t have the time to pursue your dreams right now, because you’ve got people to take care of, and it’s going to take some time to work things out.
Jakoś to będzie. Jakoś to będzie. It will all work out in the end.
In Excelsis Deo.
What It Feels Like To Get Off Track/Fall Off The Wagon/Sail Alone
Start. Stop. Cold feet. 30 Day Challenges with only 19, 10, 7, 3, 2 days marked off the calendar. Good intentions, meet Bad Indigestion. And a gremlin that comes out of nowhere and insists that your optimism was all a sham and you’ve always been a pessimist, come join the dark side, we have cookies that will make you feel temporarily better and incrementally worse. Wanting to change your writing style, your lifestyle approach, your mentors, your outlook, your plan of action. Stopping because this makes you feel dumb, bored, insecure, cold, lonely. Stopping because maybe you’re enjoying this TOO much, getting TOO far ahead. Fear of success? You’d heard of it once and thought it ludicrous. But now you know what it means.
Oh, hello there.
This is the entry for all you Eternal Beginners out there.
Does this sound familiar? You’ve got a goal. It lines up with your core values, your dreams, who you are. You’ve got the time, the money, the interest, the resources. You’re learning coding, or drawing, or a foreign language. You pay for lessons, download an app, order a book, brush up on concepts you’ve learned before. You remind yourself of past successes—the early morning appointments you’ve kept, the awards and recognition, the promises kept, the right characteristics, the right intentions.
And it’s working. You’ve put in Day 1. Smashed Day 2. Humped through Day 3. Had a flash of inspiration on Day 4. Told your family breathlessly on Day 5. Took a mini-break on Day 6. Felt refreshed and got twice as much done on Day 7. And the wheels fell off on Day 8.
This is the entry for all of you who’ve rode a Goal Wagon with the wheels falling off.
This sucks! You don’t have time to fix this wheel, you’re supposed to be plowing ahead! That seven-day race toward that already distant goal? Feels like a waste now, stuck here in the mud, not even sure how to put the wheel back on, since you don’t know how it came off in the first place.
This could be a challenging test or quiz or project you’ve gotten to, a milestone, that supposedly tests all you’ve learned so far, but you swear you’ve never learned ANY of this. How are you supposed to put two and two together when they’ve thrown in an elephant?
And then it starts raining. You know, you’ve got the Storm Clouds. The Blues. And you watch the clear track of progress get all muddied, first by the rain, and now, it’s all muddled in your mind’s eye, behind that curtain of tears. Tears of frustration or anger or remorse—c’mon, we all cry on the inside, even if we don’t always cry on the outside. And nothing can bring on those particular tears quite like watching ourselves get further and further off course. The track gets lost in the mud. We stumble forward but the wagon doesn’t ride as smooth as it used to (you know something is still missing, that the best you could do was a patch job and that little thing you don’t understand grates on you every time you hit a new bump in the road and the wheel threatens to roll away yet again). And what’s worse, the path before you is no longer so clearly delineated, and the path behind you is getting harder and harder to remember.
Has it really only been two weeks since you started this crazy journey?
Besides, look at all those pioneers over there. They hardly ever lose the wheels on their wagon, and if they do, they know all the buzz words that can get them out. And they have connections. To experts. In fact, they’re not hobbying it up like you do; they’re professionals. They get bit? They suck out the poison. They lose their way? They draw up a new map. They stumble into a trouble area? They call in a knowledgeable buddy. And you feel alone. And foolish. And cowardly. Because you’re ready to pack it in. Maybe you’ll get back to it in a couple months. Maybe a couple years. Maybe, maybe, you’re ashamed of that word, so you keep it hidden like a middle name. But having Maybe as a middle name is even worse. It’s always there, taunting you, a part of your identity you can’t shake. A middle name like Gaylord or Dorcas. You’ve made it a part of you now. You’ve made it a part of your name. I’m so-and-so, the quitter, the maybe, the wannabe, the hobbyist, the some-gotta-win-and-some-gotta-lose-so-I-guess-I’m-the-loser. You think if there’s a place in this current society for you, it’s Anti-Hustler. You don’t have the sweat equity, kid.
This is the entry for all you Anti-Hustlers out there.
First, A Bit About Me (Then A Bit More About You)
As an American, I'm a big fan of the American Ethos: Work Hard, Work Smart, Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve (But If You Have To Cry, Cry Into Your Pillow At Night Gosh Demmit).
There's no irony there. I think I'm being truthful. That's the American Work Ethos as I understand it.
And I lived by it for the first twenty years of my life. Then something caved in around that time. Sordid details? None really, and besides, we're not here to be down together. We're here to stand up together.
And whether you're visiting this plot of internet country from an American or an Estonian server, there's a current in modern culture we're all familiar with right now: the Hustle Culture.
But, my friends, if you've read this far, you're wondering what the heck I mean by Anti-Hustler.
And what this blog is going to be about.
To be an Anti-Hustler is to embody this adage:
"Dance to the beat of your own drummer."
Do you feel like you don't have what it takes because you've never gone "full tilt" on your dream? You didn't quit your day job (OK, I did that, but there's a Failing Upward blog you should check out that illustrate how that doesn't necessarily mean insta-results or insta-pride or insta-satisfaction...), you didn't go back to school, you didn't even finish the YouTube tutorial you started. So you start hearing this, on the internet, from frustrated family members, from your monkey mind:
1. "You just don't want it bad enough then."
2. "If you hate your job, just quit. Who cares what people think? Do what you love, what you want!"
The author has personally said these things, or nodded her head from time to time. Not just to herself. To others. To friends (I've got an apology planned this weekend).
Dear Reader, I'm going to start this pilgrimage of penance by NOT saying any of these things to you.
Because we aren't hustlers. We're more like pioneers--this is wild country for us (for me, it's about writing and coding and where those two overlap), and we're going to take our time and work hard because we want to make a life here.
What These Scribbles Are For
This site is an author's website. But this author is not just a pioneer, she's an apprentice. There are lots of experts talking about the topics I'm going to talk about. And I've got my own small pockets of expertise to share.
But this is also a site about the Beginner's Journey: putting down stakes, making claims, small wins.
Eternal Beginners. Eternal Pioneers.
Or finishing a short story--and sending it out for publication.
Or just getting your email set up to your website, because I'm still not sure I'm doing it right.
If there are stops and starts on Day 8, at least they'll be documented.
That's what these Scribbles will be about, in a nutshell.
To start this off, they'll be a nice daily burst here at the beginning, followed by more scheduled updates on Mondays and Saturdays at 11 a.m.
We'll learn it together.
In Excelsis Deo.
NOTE: To improve my pixel art, I've decided to do the terribly ambitious thing of creating a custom pixel piece for each blog entry (or in this case reshading one I'd already done). DOUBLE NOTE: For the sake of sanity, they may be small, but I'll at least try to make them relevant.
K.W. writes novels, short stories, the occasional ode, game scripts, and (with actual evidence!), this here blog.