There’s a New York Times article making the rounds in the writing world right now. Entitled, Failure, Writing’s Constant Companion by Rachel Shteir, the article focuses on the things that challenge writers in the day-to-day pursuit of their careers. Inability to reach goals, writer’s block, poor sales and bad reviews are some of the reasons the author cites as examples of writing failures. Not many of us in the trenches would argue that those things are definitely negatives. The article quotes author Philip Roth as saying, “I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.”
Wow. That’s depressing.
In fact, that’s exactly the kind of negativity that keeps many authors from writing. Personally, I don’t like to focus on failure. How depressing it would be to live like that. And negativity drains creativity. Besides, you could say the same about any task you set for yourself:
I failed today because I didn’t get the cleaning done I’d planned.
I failed because I burned the chicken for dinner.
Or you could instead celebrate the fact that you spent the time you would have used for cleaning visiting with a friend you haven’t talked to in years. Or understanding that the chicken got burned because you were outside planting a tree that you hope will give you fruit in a couple of years. Every failure lays the groundwork for a future success. I’d much rather look at life through that lens, because that’s the kind of thinking that gives my muse energy.
Happy reading (and writing) everybody!