The Journal of Failure – Week 6 of 2020

Week 6 of 2020 – 5 February to 11 February 2020



  • Goal – 100 / day, or 700 / week
  • Achieved – 718/700 – Success!

Writing – I Remember

  • Goal – 14 / week
  • Achieved – 13/14 – Failure!

Writing – Small Projects (Fragments, short stories, etc)

  • Goal – 10 minutes 30 seconds / week
  • Achieved – 18 minutes/10 minutes 30 seconds – Success!

Writing – Large Projects

  • Goal – 21 minutes / week
  • Achieved – 35 minutes/21 minutes – Success!

Getting myself out there

  • Short story reviews – Zero (Zero total for the year)
  • Submissions – Zero (Zero total for the year)
  • Rejections – Zero (Zero total for the year)
  • Acceptances – Zero (Zero total for the year)


Week 6!

And so another week goes by, this week mostly one of success, I suppose.  The goals are small, but achieving them builds up a steady bank of success, an unbroken line of doing the things I say I should be doing.

Reading went well. I am currently deep in the throes of an Open Letter reading spree, and will continue this for the foreseeable future.  I am fortunate enough to own all of the books ever published by Open Letter, and while I’ve often liked their books I have never really loved any.  I want a book that smashes me, pummels my soul, shows me new things in literature.  I want to love.  I’m a simple man.  But I do like them all, and they are generally thematically and stylistically very much what I want from a novel.  I’m never disappointed.

I’m also deep into Frank Bidart’s Half-Light, which is his collected poems from 1965-2016.  I’ve long discussed my weakness when it comes to poetry.  I want to like it more, but I don’t know much about it or how to read it.  But really the only way to get better is to read, and so I am.

Many years ago I started this website with the idea of posting the fragmentary writing I was creating every few days.  Essentially what I would do is take the book I was currently reading, take a sentence from whatever page I was on, write that down (or an approximation) and use that as a springboard to write a half page or full page in that style or using those themes.  It has worked pretty well, I suppose, or at least it did, and I have written over two hundred of them.  Some have turned into published stories, and just this January I sold a fragment which was turned into the story Automatic / Typewriter Keys and published by Sublunary Editions.

So anyway all of that is to say I’m back into the fragments, one of which I wrote and posted just last night.  This one was influenced by Frank Bidart’s poem, The War of Vaslav Nijinsky.  It was wonderful returning to this technique.  I see it partly as a muscle-stretching exercise, but also as planting seeds of fiction which may one day turn into something.

In terms of a long piece, I did work on a larger bit of writing.  I am still floundering in that area of my writing, but it’s starting to firm up.

Many years ago I wrote about 15,000 words on a novella I had planned out about Rasputin.  I liked it and like it, but I haven’t touched it in a while.  It’s always in the back of my mind, ticking away as ‘the novella I am working on’.  And yet, and yet, and yet – I opened Google Docs yesterday and the last time I touched it was 2016.  Good gravy!  That is not a going concern.

But I want it to be.  I’m going to devote the next week to seeing if the project still has legs, if I can reconnect with it, if it is something worth putting time into.  The idea is very strong, but it’s the execution, as always, that makes it . We’ll see.

And that was my week of failure.

Each week I aim to provide an update on the Journal of Failure.  These reports are intended to provide an impetus for me to achieve as much as I should/more than I do, and also to provide a further ongoing record of my life, as it is. 


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