Why You Should Be Excited About Failure and Rejection

by Joe Bunting | 70 comments

I once asked over fifty writers what their biggest fear was. Can you guess what the most popular answer was? It shouldn't be hard. You're probably afraid of the same thing.

Rejection.

Fear

Photo by Ibrahim Iujaz

We're afraid our story—the one we've been working on for years—won’t be taken seriously. Worse, we’re afraid our work will be ignored completely. Sometimes, we're so afraid of rejection we even avoid writing our story in the first place.

How do you deal with and the fear of failure and rejection?

Lean Into the Fear

What most successful people in every industry know is that you can't avoid fear. In fact, you shouldn't try.

Yesterday, I gave an live Q&A about one of our upcoming courses, and beforehand I was petrified. I'm not a great public speaker, and the possibility of rejection and failure loomed before me. I wanted to cancel it, and kept thinking of excuses. “No one is going to show up, anyway. What's the point of this? This isn't worth the pressure.”

However, the fear actually made me better. Fear motivates you to practice. Because of my fear, I prepared more. I made more of an effort to connect with the audience. I thought harder about how to do the best I could with the limited skill I had.

Fear makes you better. Don't avoid it. Instead, lean in. (Share that on Twitter?)

Don't Try To Be Unrejectable

We are all scared. However, what separates successful writers from wannabe writers is what they do in the midst of their fear. They lean in. They don't run. They don't fight. They do the right thing, the thing they said they were going to do in the first place.

Seth Godin says, “Write more, write better, share often. It’s entirely possible you’re not good. But the keyword that’s missing is, ‘yet.’”

Your job isn’t to be un-rejectable. Your job is to share your story.

PRACTICE

Write something you're scared to write today.

Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, share your practice in the comments section. And if you share, be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.

Have fun!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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70 Comments

  1. themagicviolinist

    That’s so funny that I read this post right after watching “The Help” for the second time. Skeeter ended up writing something she was scared to write and it worked.

    Just thought I’d point out that there is a typo on the Practice part of the post. You said “your” instead of “you’re.”

    Reply
  2. Grace

    Excited….not so much. Less afraid? Yes. The more rejection I face, the closer I feel I’m getting to my goal. So there’s an expectation of being rejected and even maybe a need for it (as weird as that sounds) so that I can continue to fine tune whatever I’m creating. But I have to say I’m a long, long, long way from excitement 🙂

    Reply
  3. Birgitte Rasine

    Bring it on! Fear be damned! Hoo-wah! “Rejection” (or, as I call it, the right of others to disagree with you) is part of life and it’s great.

    Think about it for a nanosecond.

    What would the world look like if everyone always thought everything everyone else did was fine and dandy? We’d all still be in our diapers.

    Reply
    • Curtis Beaird

      Or, if we spent more than your stated “nanosecond” with that “what are they going to think” monkey on our back. Ponderous. Way to ponderous. I vote for Birigitte

    • Joe Bunting

      Wait. You’re not in diapers anymore? Now, I’m embarrassed.

  4. Giulia Esposito

    This is a part of a piece I’ve started that I’m pretty sure I’ll never finish because I’m way too afraid to.

    ———–

    Rose looked away, sipping her wine. She was oddly disconcerted. His home was
    disarming, and he had an easy, friendly air but there was an intensity about
    him as well. It’d been that intensity that had first caught her attention when
    he’d asked her to dance, that intensity she’d shied away from. Rose knew she
    had a weakness for powerful men, men who knew what they wanted and weren’t
    afraid to go after it. It had given her more than her fair share of heartaches
    over the years. Because in the end, she wasn’t strong enough for them. In the
    end, their control proved too painful to bear. That was why she’d refused to
    dance with him at first, not because of Chad or her lack of interest. But
    because she knew he was dangerous.

    “I shouldn’t have come here,” she said suddenly, setting down the glass.

    “Live a little sweetheart. It’s only wine.” His eyes studied her for several long
    seconds, and then he set down his own glass. “We’ll talk about something else.”

    “Like what? You?”

    “I’ll tell you anything you want to know,” he said with a smile as he leaned forward
    to rest his elbows on his knees. Gabriel looked up at her from under hooded
    eyes. “Anything.”

    Rose felt suddenly foolish. He hadn’t done or said anything to make her leave like
    this, as if she was afraid of him. He’d been nothing but a perfect gentleman
    really, and even though she knew he was dangerous in other ways, she knew he
    wouldn’t hurt her. She picked up her wine glass. “What do you do?” It was a
    safe question, if a dull one. Maybe he’d lose interest if he realized that’s
    what she was, dull and uninspired.

    “It’s very boring work,” he said, “I’m in charge of a large organization and I often
    wish I wasn’t.”

    “What would you do instead?” she asked.

    He shrugged. “Live. What else is life for?”

    She blinked at the question. “I never really thought of it,” was all she could
    think of to say, though she had often found herself pushing away thoughts of
    how she was merely walking through life instead of living it. She had long ago
    given up trying to capture the life she had dreamed of when she was younger.
    She pushed the thoughts away now and turned her attention back to Gabriel. “Why do it, then, work where you do?”

    “Why do any of us do anything at all in this life?” His eyes held hers, and Rose
    flushed suddenly under his gaze.

    “Do you always answer a question with a question?”

    “No,” he said. “What do you do sweetheart?”

    “I’m a copy editor,” she sighed. “It’s boring work too.”

    “We should quit,” Gabriel said with a slow smile. “Go away and see the world.”

    Rose laughed. “I’d like that,” she said without thinking. She pressed her lips
    together. “Silly idea really.”

    “Why is silly?” he asked with a small frown.

    “Because it’s just a dream,” she replied. The wine was starting to make her head spin, though she hadn’t finished even a glass yet. He took the glass from her, and
    set it aside, taking her hand.

    “Dreams are never silly sweetheart,” he said. “Dreams are all that keep us going.”

    Reply
    • Literati Rhapsody

      Ooh that was good. You gotta finish now you’ve got me hooked.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Glad you enjoyed it Literati 🙂

    • Tegan VB

      I agree! You raise such deep questions in your writing as well – what are we here for? Does Rose find the answer? What happens? I’d love to read more! 🙂

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks Tegan! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • John Fisher

      The tension between the desire for safety and security on the one hand and a more exciting life on the other is intriguing. This is good work IMO, good picturing of the reactions of Rose and how this man attracts and repels her at the same time. But I understand your comment that it may never be finished because it’s just too scary. I feel the same about some things I would like to write.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks for the feedback, it’s much appreciated!

    • Steve Stretton

      I really like the last line, I think it encapsulates it all. This is a story crying out to be told in full, wherever that may take it. Be brave and let it take you into an uncertain but ultimately exciting future.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks for the encouragement Steve! I think I will 🙂

    • Victoria

      Giulia its perfectly written, Concise, clean. I related perfectly to Rose. Why on earth should you be afraid? There’s nothing wrong with it.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thank you Victoria. To put it simply, it feels really big, so I guess I’m afraid of not being able to do the story justice.

    • Victoria

      Victoria Steve Stretton • 9 minutes ago −
      Giulia its perfectly written, Concise, clean. I related perfectly to Rose. Why on earth should you be afraid? There’s nothing wrong with it.
      0 •Reply•Share ›

    • Julia W.

      Keep going Giulia! Post your last line on the top of every page.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Aw, thanks! So glad you like it.

    • Li

      I think you should keep going. Maybe your afraid because you’ve gotten to close to the truth. Push through it. I think what your describing is something universal.

    • Patrick Marchand

      Alot of power in the dialogue!

  5. Karoline Kingley

    I almost think of fear as a form of pride. After all if I”m so scared about what others might think of me and my work, than that should be push me to better.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      The fear has to do with vulnerability as well. Art can be a creative expression of yourself–part(s) of yourself, so it makes you vulnerable.

    • Joe Bunting

      Interesting point, Karoline.

  6. Erik H

    I decided to step up to the challenge of writing for fifteen minutes before sharing what I came up with. Fear gripped me the entire time, and still has me in its grasp. But I won’t improve if I never open myself up to criticism, so here goes. I used the prompt “pocket change” from the Typetrigger site to get me started. Here it is:

    I stood under the shadow of the bridge, waiting for my next target. It had been a slow morning, the icy weather keeping most citizens indoors. That didn’t stop me from coming out to work my usual spot. A man has to eat..

    A Honda Civic rolled around the corner. I checked the traffic lights. Providence was on my side as the light turned yellow, then red. I ran to the middle of the street, my spray bottle in one hand and stolen squeegee in the other. I cleaned the passenger side first, knowing I needed to be on the driver’s side before the light went green. I rushed around the front of the car, spraying the
    windshield as I went, thoughts of dollar burgers from the nearby fast food
    restaurant running through my head. My mouth was actually watering!

    The squeegee hit the windshield like iron hits a magnet and within seconds the window was spotless. I could clearly see my own reflection,
    and I felt a little sorry for that dirt-stained, beard-toting stranger looking
    back at me. It didn’t always used to be this way, I told myself, not for the
    first time that day.

    I took a quick glance back at the light. Still red. The driver’s window rolled down.

    Yes! Instead of the dollar bill I was expecting, a Styrofoam coffee cup came hurtling out of the window right at me, coffee spraying everywhere, including the newly cleaned windshield. That part bothered me the most, seeing my work desecrated by a heartless jerk in a Civic.

    The light turned green and the car sped off. I stood there in the street, my gaze following the departing Civic. I didn’t notice the Cadillac pull up until it was right in front of me. Odd, I thought to myself, I used to own a vehicle just like this.

    The window rolled down. I braced myself for the inevitable onslaught of leftover beverage. To my surprise, a hand was extended, clutching a dollar bill. I took it, feeling ashamed at my situation for the first time in years.

    “It wasn’t always like this,” I said, a note of defensiveness in my voice. I noticed the bill for the first time. A hundred dollar bill? This would feed me for weeks. I tried to thank the man for his kindness.

    “Pocket change,” he said before I could get a word out. His window rolled up and he sped off down the street, leaving me cold, smelling of coffee, and better off than I’d been in months.

    Reply
    • eva rose

      what a vivid picture! A view of life most don’t dare to imagine. Very vulnerable character in an unknown scenario. We are all vulnerable in our own way. Thanks for painting this picture.

    • John Fisher

      Erik, I like this! It is indeed scary . . . I had a four-month taste of homelessness in 1994, so it resonates with things I saw “out there”. I’m interested in what might have prompted the “Yes!” at the start of your sixth paragraph — was the action of that driver one the main character might have been expecting,on some level? Good work!

    • Giulia Esposito

      This is good, it clearly shows a side of life we otherwise tend to ignore, and it shows it quite well.

    • June

      Wow, that seems like a great scene for a novel, and it certainly makes me want to know more. We used to have the approach of the window cleaners in the big city and this makes me wonder what their back story was. How do people end up on the streets doing that job. It has an uplifting end and opens doors to more development.

    • Tegan VB

      I want to know what happens to your character, and what has happened to him. I hope you will continue writing your story! 🙂

    • Victoria

      Love this. You’re all such superior writers!

    • Michelle Mieras

      Wow. This was fabulous! I really felt for your character!

  7. Curtis Beaird

    Writers really should have had my Dad as a guide to a clear understanding of “rejection.” Now, my Dad seldom served milk and cookies. He probably wouldn’t play real well in the touchy-feely world of today. He would simply say… “Tell them to kiss your…..” See, told you no one would like it. It’s just easier to savor the miserable than get on with what is ours to do.

    Reply
    • John Fisher

      Ouch – “savor the miserable” indeed! All too true.

  8. John Fisher

    He pulls into a slot in the small parking lot at his favorite city park, pulls out [i]Reveille for Revolutionaries[i}, lights a cigarette and begins to read. A few minutes later, he hears an engine gunning closer; he looks up into his rear-view mirror just in time to catch the blurred image of a white van zipping past his back bumper, going the wrong way on the one-way circle. [i]Kids,[i] he thinks and settles back into [i]Reveille[i]. Then a minute later he glances out his window and sees that the van has turned back around and is parked beside the entrance road, facing him, two hundred yards south. [i] Let’s just . . . see about this,[i] he tells himself, reaching for the key. By the time he backs his car out of the slot, the van is gone.

    Tuesday night, and his book club is in the midst of their regular meeting. He half-hears the front door open as he listens to someone across the circle who is talking. The room goes quiet. He looks toward the entrance door just in time to see a police uniform and badge disappear behind the closing door.

    He remembers the afternoon last year when he stepped out of the burger joint on South Main and looked directly into the eyes of a woman behind the wheel of a light-colored car parked directly opposite the door. Her eyes glinted with what might have been hatred. He scanned his memory but could not remember ever seeing her before. He was wearing a t-shirt emblazened with the words “Who’s Your Sugar Daddy?”. He gripped the shirt-tail with both hands, stretching the words and candy-bar image tighter on his chest, and strode to his car.

    Now, Looking into the hall mirror, he wonders,[i]For which of my sins . . . ?[i}, adjusting his cap before going out again. The guy in the mirror shrugs and grins.

    He heads to the door.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      This sounds like part of a mystery story. You’ve got me curious!

  9. June Perkins

    The second draft of my nanowrimo novel is calling out to me
    and saying, ‘why aren’t you writing me.’ I have many pat answers and excuses,but most of all it’s fear I don’t get rid of the right characters. There were so many sub plots and characters in the ‘vomit draft’ that I knew I had a series on my mind.

    The long slog of planning an entire series was avoided, and
    in a workshop I planned it out on butcher’s paper. For a month I was excited to be begin and then said to myself firmly ‘no, I’m just too busy.’ This was followed by asking my draft readers (yes I crazily had draft readers on the nanowrimo novel) which characters theywere attached to.

    Lately I read book after book in that genre and write almostanything else, whether it’s a blog, short story, song, poem, article, memoir, and still that nanowrimo novel haunts me like a knock from some zombie on rollerskates at my dreaming door, saying the problem is ‘you’re not centred and single minded girl.’

    How to lean into the fear and just begin? Avoid reading the draft at all, and just write the characters that still call to me. The books I love whatever their genre have amazing and enthralling characters that stay with you. You care about their fate, you want them to do well, you love their idiosyncracies. They do not bore you, they often surprise you but are steady and believable. What’s to fear, I want to create and have others meet characters like that.

    My need to meet them overrides my fear.

    Reply
  10. Tegan VB

    Thank you so much for this blog post! It was definitely something that I have needed to read/hear. And thus I have begun the story that has been swimming around in my head for a while now . . . not sure where it will go, but I started. 🙂 Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Tegan VB

    Here you go:
    “Where are we?”

    “I have no idea . .. All I know is that my head hurts.”

    “Yeah, mine too – I totally didn’t see that see that coming
    . . . how are we even still alive?”

    “I don’t know – that fall seemed to go on forever – that last
    thing I knew we were running from the [police] after . . .”

    Aneirn looked around him, trying to get his bearings,
    looking out for Anwen, wanting to protect her, as he always had, even when she
    didn’t think she needed it or wanted it. It was dark and damp where they lay
    from their fall; the earth was cool and thick and black beneath him. He tenderly
    reached for the back of his head, where a throbbing bump was raising itself
    through his mess of dark hair. The last thing he remembered was running and
    running, his heart pounding in his chest and his ears, his hand tightly holding
    onto Anwen’s, as though as if he let go, he would let go of her forever. He
    glanced over at Anwen and quickly took her in, and seeing no obvious injuries,
    he signed a breath of relief and thankfulness.

    She was all he had. Everything else good in his life was
    gone.

    “We have to get out of here. Find out where we are.” He
    stood up, slowly and then held out his hand for his sister, helping her to
    unsteady feet. “You look barely worse for wear.”

    She raised an eyebrow at him and sighed in contradiction.

    He took a shaky step out from the darkness where they were.
    He looked up, but all he could see was the roof of the cave, far above their
    heads. Where were they?? He didn’t’ remember any caves in their home
    woods. It was too weird, the way it had all happened. Running, the mist
    swallowing them up deep in the forest and before they knew it, they were
    falling, falling. He remembered hearing a faint chant just before they fell.

    “We need to find somewhere to stay.”

    “You know we don’t have a safe place, not after . .. not
    after everything that has happened.”

    “We have to find something. I have a little bit of money.”

    “Money! Where have you been stashing money? We haven’t had money in ages!”

    “Da gave it to me, right before, before, he passed on.” He
    let his voice trail off, the memory still so painful it robbed him of words and
    he could see tears welling up in Anwen’s eyes at the mention of their beloved
    father, taken from them too soon.

    They were near the mouth of the dank, dark cave and so they
    tentatively headed out, listening closely for signs of anyone that might be
    nearby, anyone who might have followed them. Might be looking for them. He didn’t know why two teenagers were so
    important to the [police] and what they wanted with them, especially now. To
    what end was it to bring them in?

    At the edge of the cave, he paused and motioned for Anwen to
    be silent, hoping she would oblige, listening and taking in the scenery. They
    definitely were not in the woods of home. Instead of tall, towering oaks lined
    with thick Spanish moss hanging loosely from branches and down the trunks,
    there were thin trees with small green leaves and yellowish trunks. There was
    no breeze, but the air was not balmy and sticky, like it would have been back
    home. Home. Already, pangs of homesickness bent in on his emotions, but he pushed them down. He couldn’t
    think of home right now, he had to find out where they were and what they were
    going to do. He must find somewhere for them to stay. Find out what happened to
    them. Where they were and what they were
    going to do. So many questions tugged at his mind and he tried to sort them out
    and he surveyed the scene before him.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      I’m curious as to what’s going on—where are they? What have they been through? Who’s looking for them and why. You seem to have the start of a bigger story. Good practice Tegan.

    • Tegan VB

      Thanks! It is the start of a bigger story . . .who they are and what’s going will be revealed in later parts of the story. 🙂

  12. J Keith

    After reading this post I was thinking about writing a new story for fifteen minutes but when I started writing I couldn’t get the old one out of my head. So I wrote about that for a few minutes. It isn’t a new story but it is about fear and overcoming the fear.

    I was feeling really down because my friends were just too busy to read my story after initially being very supportive. So I figured they just didn’t like it. I stopped writing for a while until I realized that it didn’t matter if they liked it. All that mattered was that I liked it and felt it was worth saving.

    So anyway, here is my fifteen minutes or around there of writing:

    I created a world that no one wanted to live in. But I liked it, so I kept it and kept

    writing about it anyway. The people I showed the stories to were either too busy to read them or simply uninterested. It was disheartening and depressing to say
    the least. The thing was, the world and all of the people in it and who would eventually be in it wouldn’t leave me alone. I couldn’t get them out of my mind and just wasn’t willing to give up on their world.

    It’s funny how once you start the creation of an entirely different world it isn’t so easy to let it go. So I didn’t. You see, in this world, a war was coming – a turn in the tides and in the very population of the planet. It happened before. There was once a Great War on this planet and it turned the page on many populations.
    People and places were wiped out and replaced with new ones.

    But I didn’t start writing during that period. I started writing during the intervening time period between wars. I started writing with the intention of starting a war.

    This world is populated with humans and magical creatures. They have rules they live by and things beyond their control which dictate their actions. They live in a world and a dimension among many dimensions. These places are all
    governed by one force, one source of ultimate power which is completely
    impartial.

    The main characters now in this turbulent world on the brink of another Great War between Good and Evil have their own problems. They each have loves and losses which affect their actions. Many of them are the last of their kind and are aware of the impending end to all magical creatures.

    Humanity will arise to someday be the primary occupants of this world. Magic will fade entirely with the end of the new war. As the gods abandon this world, only those magic users remaining can help preserve its future.

    Reply
  13. Steve Stretton

    I guess my main fear here is being too profane. I am always watching my language. So here goes.

    Bugger, I thought. What will the bastard do now? I had turned him down three times already and three times he had ignored my rejection.

    “You really need these, they are the latest word in mens trousers. I know you need them. Just consider them an investment in your sartorial future.”

    My sartorial future? What the hell was that?

    Three times I had closed the door on him, each time more savagely. Three times he had knocked again. I was starting to be very angry. Finally he said, “Look, I’ll include this dress shirt, it’s very popular at the moment.”

    “I don’t do business at the door. Least of all for clothes. Now bugger off.”

    I was about to close the door again when he smiled.

    “Thank you for seeing me at least. I see you are having a tough time at the moment. I won’t bother you again.”

    He turned to go. Suddenly I felt sorry for him. They were expensive trousers, but they looked like a good buy. And the shirt I could do with on the evening’s date I had planned. As I closed the door, my purchases in my hand, I heard him sigh, “It shouldn’t be this tough.” Then he was gone. Rejection can be hard, I thought, both to experience and to do.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      Steve, if it’s any reassurance, I didn’t think that was at all profane. Some of the language I’ve seen in print is far worse. I like the character suddenly feels sorry for the salesman, it illustrates how we’re all really the same nicely.

    • Victoria

      I didn’t notice any profanity. Unless buggering is a British insult of which I’m not aware.
      I liked this piece. My only question was the jump from feeling sorry for him to the close of the purchase. I would have liked to have seen how that went down

    • Steve Stretton

      Thanks Victoria, Giulia for your comments. I see I could have added a line to acknowledge the purchase, something like “I relented and bought them.” As for the profanity, I feel a little more confident in my use of robust language now.

  14. Patience Grace

    I did something a couple of days ago because of something I’ve been scared of recently. My fear? being overwhelmed by all these younger writers who handle online so effortlessly because they are so used to it, they can produce words in formats that fit quickly and get them linked and effective in very little time. My response? To start bringing across some of my archives of The Writing Life Offline to show what I have set up over time with a range of people in a range of settings. I plan to turn some of this into eBooks as well as content on my web site. So my first step was a call-out to any women who were involved with a women writers’ festival I initiated 25 years ago. Few people in current writers circles seem to recognise many of the names, but that is entirely my point – we each have helped the other to do what marvellous things we have shared in our lives, and speed isn’t everything 😉

    Reply
  15. Victoria

    Brian Mac was a midget of a boy. Actually no, he may have been taller than I and really skinny but he was younger and maybe that’s why I remember him as little. He had a biggish head, sharp teeth and wore enormous oversized t shirts and skater boy shorts. His was a loud and unpredictable kind of energy and I knew I didn’t want to get too close. I had my fun but he was the kind that crossed the line.
    So I don’t know how it was that I found myself in the backseat of a speeding car he was driving underage one night.
    I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible but I was a prisoner.
    We were swerving in an unfinished gravel parking lot with deep potholes and giant mounds of gravel piled six feet high. He looked ridiculous behind the wheel and his vision must have barely reached past the dashboard.

    Brian spun the cars wheels to the right around the next mound and my body flew to the left and my head hit the glass window. David was with me and he was pressed hard against me by sheer centrifugal force..

    It was past midnight and the sound of screeching tires echoed in the suburbs. We were going to die or get arrested. I hated him.

    He swung back and pressed the gas pedal even faster. The station wagon bounced from a pothole. My jaws clacked loudly against each other and I worried about chipping teeth. David grasped the seat in front of him with one hand and the far door with the other to steady himself.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      I like this. It feels edgy and nostalgic at the same time.

  16. Julia W.

    “Every story betrays someone,” she said. She tapped her cigarette against his glass. Ash fell into his beer, sizzled, then drifted in sandy bits to the bottom. “You
    can’t protect anyone from the truth. So tell me.”

    He shook his head, trying to clear it. What was it? What was he supposed to tell, and what was he supposed to hold back?

    She leaned in and ran her fingernail up the side of his arm, starting a tingle that
    rippled down his spine. He could smell her perfume, something tangy, and her sweat. She picked up the beer, swirled it, then handed it back. Their fingers touched. It was all he could do to keep from reaching out, taking her hand.

    He picked up his glass and drank. He knew then that he was going to tell her the whole story. All of it.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      This is great! Poignant writing.

    • John Fisher

      Yyyyyeeow!! Smokin’! Makes me want to know “the whole story”!

    • Julia W.

      Me too! Um… hmmm. What next? Hey John, where’s your 15 minutes? Don’t see it on here.

    • John Fisher

      …..it’s down below; it starts with “He pulled into the slot in the small parking lot at his favorite park . . . .

  17. Robert

    Ouch yea! I know what it means. It all started with the tests and exams, back in my early school days. In our time, it was a nightmare. I was taught, apart of the school’s curriculum, to be afraid of assessments, to shake before entering the exam room. And of course with this pressure, there is a big chance of failure; particularly in my case, as I was a rambunctious pupil. These early experiences leave deep emotional scars. I dragged it throughout my life.
    I blame the fear of failure for not being a good seller and choose a career based on more practical activities. Fear of failure always stopped me to sell something to someone, even to make an attempt. I was not able to make the so-called “cold lead”. I needed someone else to introduce me first, and then I followed the “warm lead”.
    Fortunately in good time, life and experience will come to rescue and suddenly, I realised that failure does not matter; I can always take advantage of it and make a triumphant exit. Now, I rather enjoy the incertitude.
    Rejection, indubitably, was also part of it, but that’s story for another day.

    Reply
  18. George McNeese

    I’ve been working on an ending to this short story.
    Cheryl heard a thump upstairs. She took a sip of black tea. “Honey?” She heard no answer. “Is everything all right?” Still, no response. Only the chirps of crickets and the calls of cicadas. Cheryl walked upstairs to her son’s bedroom, the door cracked open. She fretted. “Baby?” Her fear grew. The fan hummed across the hall. She pushed the door open and gasped. “No….no….NO!!” Cheryl yelled. She ran downstairs and grabbed her cell phone from the coffee table. She fumbled the phone. Her fingers trembled, dialing the emergency number. Cheryl was gasping, crying, trying to steady the phone on her cheek. “What’s your emergency?” Cheryl continued to gasp. She couldn’t speak. “Hello?” the voice asked. “Hello?”
    “Please,” replied Cheryl. “Please save my son.”

    Reply
  19. mamawrites

    It’s amazing, isn’t it, that adults could still be consumed by fear – after realizing after a certain age that no matter what happens, it just gives the rest of the world something to talk about for about twenty minutes? Thank you for this great post.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Great point. Thanks!

  20. Patrick Marchand

    I had not written since the ski season started but since it has calmed down a bit lately I can start writing again, I am very much a beginner so any text gives me the bejeeves. I based this one on one of the prompts in your Let’s write a short story book.

    _____

    The gentle hum of the mechanical chair and the sparkle of the incandescent snow under the rays of the sun were a contrasting portrait with the scene taking place in one of the old chairs of the lift, where a man and a woman where involved in a rather feisty verbal joust. Theyr fight lasted for most of the climb, which attracted angry looks from occupants upstream and downstream trying to enjoy this winter wonderland.

    Tommy could not believe that for the first time that he and Suzie spent a weekend couple getaway he had already managed to fuck everything up, why had he transformed this romantic weekend into a ski trip? Signing up for skiing lessons had seem like a good idea at first, since neither of them knew the mountain or had appropriate knowledge of the sport to make it a full weekend, but the stress had made him very angry from the beginning, which had made the fight begin for absolutely nothing.

    “Ahh what beautiful morning! I love our instructor, he is very passionate. ” Was all that she said.

    “Well yes, you surely find him passionate enough, maybe if you stopped taking all his attention he would have time to focus on the other members of the group for more than a few minutes .. ” Had been his answer.

    Her round eyes widened in surprise “Uh .. That’ll grumpy? Where does that come from ”

    “Well since we have arrived in the mountains you have been ignoring me, it’s as if I do not exist. ”

    “I ignore you? What you mean is that you keep finding a way to escape from my presence because you are too scared of me ” Suzie’s cheeks had begun to turn red as they did any time she got warmed up and the fight broke shortly after. Fortunately they were obliged to stop when they got to the top.

    Once they joined the group under the prying eyes of the other couples, Tommy turned his attention to the instructor, they skied until the beginning of the next track and then he received some advice of incalculable value. “A golden rule in skiing is that you should always be pointed towards our next goal, the instructor then leaned on his skis, when you go down you will have the reflex to put yourself in the back, it is a normal defensive reaction, but you have to keep your body bending forward, always keep yourself leaning more forward than backwards, and that way you can stay on top of the situation. ” Those few words created a snap in Tommy’s mind, he realized that he should finally stop trying to save himself from his intimacy with Suzie and rather give himself mind and body to her, he turned his eyes toward her, smiled, and thought, forwards, not backwards!

    Reply
    • Steve Stretton

      I like it, it has a nice resolution. Just a couple of points, the first paragraph could probably be omitted, I think the second para makes a stronger beginning. Also the last line could be split into three lines, it’s a bit long. Otherwise good work.

    • Patrick Marchand

      Thank you Steve, very helpful!

  21. Carmen

    Everybody sat in the church, stiff and rigid and silent. The man they had gathered to… commemorate… would have detested the building and the
    pomp rituals that accompanied it. But his widow was born in a time when you did things because that was the way to do them, and so a church it was.

    The youngest daughter had children of her own now. And she sobbed and sobbed, balancing on that mourner’s precipice in the face of a flood of thoughts and grief. I miss you Daddy. Why couldn’t you have been better? Why did you leave me with that woman as a mother? That bitch who told me I was so many horrible things. You ignored me and it hurt so much as you doted on my sister instead. As always happens at the death of a loved one, our lives contract and seem smaller. The second daughter felt the pain of rejection as fresh and raw as it had been when her father sternly told her to shut her mouth as school girl. How she had kept her mouth shut for so many years after that, a silent wallflower unnoticed in her classes waiting for that praise from Daddy. Her husband placed a hand over hers. She looked down at it; the hands seemed misty through her tears. They had settled for each other, she thought and that little girl inside wailed even more.

    The first granddaughter never got on well with her mother. She was in her late teens and thought her mother stupid, frivolous and fretful and she never had any patience for such things. In the divorce that would follow in several years the daughter cut ties with the mother immediately. For now though, she mourned her grandfather. Always an old man in her lifetime, she had liked to pinch his wrinkly skin because it felt so different to her own. In the holidays she had spent with her grandparents as a small child, he had taught her many things. How to make things bigger AND smaller with binoculars, how to fish and how to body surf. She choked on her grief when she spoke at the lectern and could only manage “He was my Poppa.”

    The young boy, brother to the sister and youngest grandchild had not known the man very well. He would be jealous of that in years to come, that his older siblings had got to know him. But now, he was very young. Young and terrified that his bigger older stronger family was so hurt. He held his sisters hands. Their mother saw this and her heart panged with tenderness, not knowing that he too would also spurn her in the future. The children would remark how much their mother had become like their grandmother, in voices hushed by guilt.

    And so they sat, a crowd on the pews. Despite some bearing pain, some boredom, they all kept to propriety with stiff black clothes rarely worn, sitting in rows like school children and complaining in their heads about how uncomfortable their seat was. The youngest granddaughter who did not feel any grief tried to mirror the others and cried. The dead man’s elder daughter took secret pride in a glance from her sister’s husband. The corners of the widow’s mouth twitched energetically each time the priest mentioned her name.

    Reply
    • John Fisher

      I have a hunch that it took some real courage to write about this uncomfortable and layered family situation, and I find that admirable. Good writing style too, impeccable to my eye at least.

    • Carmen

      Thank you very much. Yes, it was hard even though it was a good few years ago now.

  22. Lilly

    There was little time to take in the daggers being spewed from the beautiful mouths around her, even less time to respond appropriately. Laura had been here countless times before, but knew that getting used to it was a cold, dark road which she did not want to trek. Though, numbness might help right about now. Perhaps she should try it after all.

    “You’re the worst goddamn person in the world!” her mother screamed at the top of her lungs, filled with convincing surety. Tears were flowing now, from the eyes of her younger sister, not yet sixteen.

    Those eyes burning with fierceness that have the ability to crush, sear, slash at one’s heart, they are unfortunately the most unforgettable. Laura’s mind raced back to one of her Great Granddad’s famous lines, “Do you see the fire in my eyes?” Apparently her mother had very successfully inherited that trait, and some. Why, yes. Yes I do. And it burns me to the start of me.

    It was times like these that caused Laura to rejoice in her residence almost eight states away. Visiting for Christmas once a year was enough. She longed to protect her siblings from the never-ending tirades living in those walls, but had finally reached the conclusion that it was an impossibility.

    As their mother continued with her grown-up (childish) temper tantrum, Laura retreated to the swing hanging from the tree behind the house. The temperature was barely above freezing, and the bitterness was instantly welcomed by a soul longing to feel anything other than this fury inside. Stunned by her family’s reality, she began to cry. Some things were accepted by this point. Their mother would never apologize. Their mother would return to impostor sweetness and smiles within a few long hours. Their mother would never see the deep hurts she has inflicted. Their mother would never change.

    Numbness, where are you?

    Reply
  23. Kimberly Trotter

    This is a really great post. I’m about to start the submission process again and a part of me is very scared of doing it. But like you said, the fear helps. I keep going over my submission packet to make sure it’s a good as it can be.

    Reply

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