The following is a bit of a rambling post. Forgive me, I just wanted to put down some thoughts on failure before they slip away. – Warren
Often people fear failure. Any creative type (and most other types) will experience failure at least once in their life. It could be from a job gone badly, a partnership dissolving, or a grand company going under. Failure rears itself in many different ways during a typical lifetime. For a writer, failure will be a part of the writing process at some point. Failure doesn’t have to be the end. As Sandi Layne recently told me, failure is only truly failure if you don’t learn something from it.
I think we need to embrace failure and let it help us improve instead of running away from it. One of the reasons I think this is because if a person never fails, he (or she) will never knows how it feels to truly succeed.
Take a solitaire game I play on my phone. Called Solitaire Megapack, it is one of the harder versions of Solitaire that I have played. The game has a wide selection of solitaire variants but I find myself playing the old standby of Klondike the most. Now, I’ve played many different solitaire games on Google Play and the Amazon App store. Solitaire Megapack sure isn’t the prettiest but it is the most challenging. Out of 504 games of Klondike I’ve played, I’ve only won 33. That means I have around a 6 percent win ratio. It isn’t an easy version of Klondike and sometimes I get very frustrate at the product. However, I’ve played other easier versions of Klondike. Games that guarantee every hand is winnable. I get bored with those versions pretty fast, because I know they are set up to be won. I don’t want that – I want a challenge. Although my win to loss ratio is low, I earned every win. I am also learning to be a better solitaire player. I am starting to outwit chance and bring home a win. Although I might not ever be a champion Solitaire player (Do they have those?) I feel good when I beat this cursed program.
That is how it is with life. If life came easy, we wouldn’t really understand what success really means. Most of the writers that I consider influences on my work didn’t have it easy, but that made these writers strive for success. Although we might long for the easy game and the short-cut version of life, it will not make us better people. Going through failure and learning from these will make every one of us better, more rounded people.
The key word is ‘learning.’ We all probably know a person that fails time after time and seem to learn nothing. Instead, this person gnashes his (or her) teeth at the government, the people around him, relatives, or anyone else but himself. People like this don’t learn from their failures and, as such, their failures are real.
Getting through failure isn’t just learning from failure but persistence and stubbornness as well. I don’t know any creative type that made it who isn’t stubborn. Some might call it egocentric, which many people are, but often that is just confused with a stubborn attitude. The same attitude that will allow a person to have confidence in his own writing despite facing around twenty publishers denying that it is any good. Or another writer that continued writing despite so many rejections that he filled several nails full of paper. We creative types need to be stubborn and have a true belief in our own work, or we will never get anywhere.
Failure, no matter how much it happens in your life, isn’t the end. Even if you are someone who tried to make a living for six months and with little else outside of ramen to eat, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Learn from the experience and trust in your own instincts. This will help get you through any failure in life and on to success.
(Of course, what exactly is success? That is a subject for another article. In addition, the fact we need to learn to deal with criticism and critique without throwing a hissy fit… Future columns, thinks I.)
Have you ever gone through failure and think you can’t go on? Are you going through this now? I know how you feel. I want to tell you that you can do it; you can reach for the stars. Learn from your failure but have belief in yourself. Life happens but it doesn’t have to be the end of us.
Also remember that writers write, always. Especially in the midst of bad times.