Y is for Yet


Flower on Cozumel, Mexico Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“Yet” is an amazing word.  Whenever something hasn’t happened in my life, something I want to happen, I just add the word “yet,” and it transforms the non-event from a disappointment to a possibility.  For example, take a look at the two sentences below.

I haven’t had a novel published.

I haven’t had a novel published yet.

The second sentence is much more promising.

The only difference between success and failure is how many times you’re willing to try.  Most people don’t succeed at anything important on the first try.  They practice, they perfect, they keep trying.  Giving up means you never get to use the “yet.”

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I didn’t fail.  I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.” This quote is sometimes used with different numbers: 100, 1000, 10,000.  The number doesn’t matter.  Even if it’s 100, it’s still a lot. The point is that he was only successful because he didn’t give up, and we don’t remember his failures.  We remember his name.

If he had given up at any point, we wouldn’t know who he was.  Someone else would have “invented” the light bulb.

That’s the point.  Whenever someone is successful, it looks easy.  Because they did it.  So it’s easy to forget that there was a process between failure and success.

JK Rowling succeeded as a novelist because she kept trying.  So did: Stephen King, Richard Adams, John Grisham, Louisa May Alcott, and many others.

My point is that whenever I start to get discouraged about something in my life, I remind myself that failure is just success I haven’t had yet.

Life Doesn’t Have An Easy Button

Photo Credit: Marshall Fletcher, Reading PA

Photo Credit: Marshall Fletcher, Reading PA

When I was in 4th grade, I took a science test, and of course I got an A.  Probably even a 100%.  I was one of those annoying kids for whom school was completely effortless.  As I got out of my seat to brag a bit, my teacher said something I’ve never forgotten.  She said, “I hate those kids who say, ‘I got an A and didn’t even study.’  I’d rather hear from the kid who studied for hours and got a B, because they’re the ones who worked for it.  They’re the ones who tried.”

I don’t know if her tirade was directed at me or not, but I slunk back to my seat.  I don’t know if the revelation came that day or some other, but that’s when I realized that being smart wasn’t something to brag about.  I didn’t do anything to earn it, and I wasn’t using it for any particular positive purpose.

Sometimes I hesitate to call myself a writer.  I’ve had a few things published, but not that many.  I’ve been paid for my work, but it’s just pin money… I’m not making a living or anything.

When Thomas Edison invented the 99 (or 999, depending on the source) light bulbs that didn’t work, did that mean he wasn’t an inventor until he made the one that did?  What defines us… Our accomplishments or our efforts?

That’s an answer that has to be answered by each individual.  I know that I’m constantly editing old stuff, writing new stuff, reading the great, the mediocre, and the bad stuff others write.  I watch people and listen to the not only what others say, but how they say it.  I love to write and to talk about writing.  For me, writing is part of who I am, not what I do.  I couldn’t stop if I tried.

So yeah, I’m a writer.