Failures? Let me count the ways, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

It's a lesson writers hear often -- failure is part of the journey to not failing, or hopefully to success, to getting published. I've certainly traveled that road.

I wrote three middle grade novels before my first published one. I thought they were brilliant; agents and publishers did not agree. I tried my hand at writing contemporary women's fiction. Not a good fit. I even wrote a middle grade novel after publishing two with Random House that received numerous rejections and didn't end up with a contract.

When I visit schools, I ask kids which sports or activities they do -- basketball, violin, painting -- and then ask if they made a three-point shot or played a concerto or produced a finished piece of art on their first, or even second or third try, and of course the answer is no.

Writing is no different. Despite the couple of first-time successes we all loathe to hear about, most of us take years to nurture our craft before it becomes any good. And then publishing can take years more! One of my favorite stories about writing and publishing is that The Help received 60 rejections before it was published and became a best-seller.

Hopefully, we all come to realize one day that our failures were part of the journey to get us where we are. In fact, studies have found that failing really does make us tougher, help us overcome fear, inspires creative solutions, builds character, and in many cases, urges us to try harder the next time.

So as we begin a new year and new decade, here's to failure as well as success. May you thrive from both.

Michele Weber Hurwitz's newest middle grade novel, Hello from Renn Lake, about climate change and youth activism, publishes next May from Penguin Random House/Wendy Lamb Books.