Failure or Delayed Success?

I heard a quote the other day, that without failure you can’t have success. While I didn’t like that initially, the thought grew on me. I think as writers that most of us do fail–to sell that very first book, to not win that very first contest, to not get that agent we so desired. I’ve learned more from failure than I have from success. And it is hard for me to accept that I don’t do something ‘perfect’ the first time. So hard that it has kept me from progressing forward.

Failure also has a way of keeping us humble. Success without some failure isn’t as appreciated. At least, that’s my way of thinking.

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14 thoughts on “Failure or Delayed Success?

  1. Meg,

    It’s a good reminder that we have to have some failures before we can succeed. I heard once that Edison failed to create the light bulb over 100 times before getting it right… so great things sometimes need a lot of work. spw

  2. I used to tell the kiddo that he would appreciate something more if he had t work for it than if it were just handed to him. When he was eight and saving money to buy his own television, he didn’t believe me. 🙂

    I’ve never been troubled by the perfectionist gene. Good enough is (usually) good enough, as long as it’s my best to start with. Strangle your PG and get on with writing. You’ve got stories to tell!

  3. Good thoughts Meg & Marilyn. I so understand you, Meg, I’m one of those who just wants to make things perfect. Perhaps it’s the way were were raised as well as our own DNA. But Marilyn is RIGHT, and I’m trying to learn that. Good enough IS good enough.

    • Jackie, I had a discussion a few years back with my former agent about this. The editor I was with was beating me to death — making me revise this way, then that way, then back to the first way — and doing a number on my self-confidence. (Instead of saying, “This doesn’t seem believable to me,” she’d write, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read.”)

      Former agent asked, “Don’t you want to look back in ten years and proudly say, ‘I didn’t settle for ‘good enough.’ This book is absolutely the best book I could have written”?

      I told her I didn’t want to look back and say, “I didn’t stand up for myself and so this book — and this editor — destroyed my voice, my confidence and my entire love of writing.”

      As you know, agent, editor and I happily parted ways soon after. 🙂

  4. I like the idea of ‘delayed success’. I’m one of those that are way too hard on themselves, thinking it has to be perfect before showing my work to anyone else. Of course, it’ll never be ‘perfect’ for everyone who reads it. This is, after all, a subjective business. But good enough really is good enough. Good words to live by.

  5. I’m there with you, sista! I learned about failure when I started competing horses. I couldn’t afford one of the uber-warmbloods who won everything. But I don’t think I’d trade any one of my horses for the easy wins, as each of them taught me something, even psychotic Abe. Yes, it’s frustrating to go into an arena, knowing you don’t have an ice cubes chance in hell of coming into the ribbons, but if you succeeded and improved since the last time, then that’s winning in my books.
    . . . do I need to get my a$$-whooping boots out and dust them off??

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