Tuesday, December 4, 2018

TRIBE OF MENTORS: Q.3 Favorite Failure

Today I am continuing my TRIBE OF MENTORS by Timothy Ferriss series.

Earlier posts:
Q.1 about books
Q.2 about best purchase under $100

Today's question:
How has failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

I got my start in children's publishing with a middle grade novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND. That book found a warm, loving readership, and I followed up with another middle grade novel DON'T FEED THE BOY, which also happily found an audience. I thought that's what I was: a poet and novelist. A writer of middle grade novels.

And so I kept writing them. Novel after novel. I submitted them to my agent, who also loved (most of) them. But none of them sold. After four years of this, I was disheartened and questioning everything about myself as a writer.

So I turned to my other love: poetry. I just let myself play and have fun. Eventually I shared them with my agent. We started submitting these projects. And lo and behold, a few of these manuscripts sold! Poetry first, and then narrative picture books.
And then some were released, and more of them sold! I currently find myself swimming in picture books, and I. Love. It.

None of this could have happened if I hadn't "failed" with all those middle grade novels. And I know that every word I've written moves me toward something new, some other learning, some higher plateau. It wasn't a "waste of time." I don't wish I'd re-routed sooner. It all happened just as it needed to.

Just so you know, I haven't given up on middle grade novels. I'm still writing them and have some exciting news I hope to share very soon. :)

Meanwhile, my next picture book MEET MISS FANCY will be released in January, thanks to Excellent Editor Stacey Barney from Putnam -- with whom I worked on that very first novel (LEAVING GEE'S BEND). Cool, huh?


  1. Very cool, Fancy & also uplifting to read, Miss Irene!

  2. If I would have taught at my first school in Dallas, I would have erased my student loans (it was a Title One school and a bit like being in the Peace Corps). I "failed" to make it five years there, but I cashed in my two years of TX teacher retirement and bought a master's degree in Children's Literature at OSU with Charlotte Huck as my advisor!


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