Ready to Fail

Tyler took on the topic of failure at the OOM blog last week (the post is here) and so it became a dinner conversation, as so many blog topics do in our household. I discussed it over sparkling wine (Tyler had a beer) because I am one of those people who drinks champagne whether or not there is something to celebrate.

The gist of Tyler’s post is that we’ve all heard the cliches from highly successful people: you can’t succeed without first overcoming failure. But now, there are studies to back it up.

As Tyler writes: “By looking at the brain activity of students during moments of failure, they were able to determine that some people react to errors by brushing them aside and moving on, and others by dwelling on them and learning from them. Those people believe they can get better at anything.”

I thought about it during our conversation. I wondered about this kind of growth mindset. Did I have it?

As the bubbles went to my head I tried to yell over the restaurant’s steady hum: Yes! I do!

Hello my name is Melissa and I write fiction. And, so far, I have been nothing but an epic failure at it. I’m not fishing for compliments. This is cold hard fact. I’ve got countless unpublishable short stories. Terrible novels and screenplays abandoned in a drawer. I send my work out to agents and editors and journals and magazines, every piece of paper, every digital file like a little legendary unicorn that no one else can see. No one has ever said ‘yes’ to me on this path to publication. I’m not lying. I have never, EVER heard the word ‘yes’ when it comes to my fiction.

I have no reason to believe I will succeed. I have every reason to believe I’ll continue failing. But all this ‘no’ has never once deterred me.

I did not understand until Tyler presented the facts. Failure is sadly misunderstood. Failure makes you better. Failure is something to celebrate. Thank goodness I always have sparkling wine at the ready.

So what do you think? Are you ready and willing to fail with me?


11 thoughts on “Ready to Fail

  1. OH my gosh I have so much to say about this, Sarno.

    But most of all: I've read pieces of your stuff, and you are saintly good. YOu have every reason to believe that your failures will lead to success.


  2. I agree! This culture of protecting everyone from failure is destroying us! Didn't Edison say, when inventing the lightbulb that he hadn't learned how to make the lightbulb, but he discovered 100 ways not to? (I could be wrong, that could be another scientist.)

    But I'll raise a glass with you! To Failure! May we learn from our “mistakes” and forge ahead to bigger, better accomplishments!


  3. Heck, yeah, I am with you. Being older, I have a battered box and a half of writings that are covered with dust. They were experimental writings, allowing me to grow as a writer.


  4. I have seen you play competitive tennis, I have proudly witnessed you battle from behind on many occasions; never concerned with the outcome only the challenge that lay ahead. There were times when most players would have gone through the motions just to get off the court. But not you, when a match appeared beyound your control, you would get a certain look in your eyes and display very aggressive body language telling your opponent that you had her right were you wanted her.

    Publishers beware!


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