The Bittersweet Pain of Mistakes and Failures

Why can’t we just learn from all the sweet, beautiful moments of life? Why can’t I write the perfect novel the first time? Why can’t I gain all the wisdom that I need from drinking coffee and staring out my french doors at the wet, wintry February world?

Clearly I’ve got a lot of questions about life. The truth is I crave the deep well of wisdom that comes from experience, but most of the time I’d prefer to skip the experience. After all, we always see the shiny final product and we very rarely see the blood, sweat, and tears that produced it. Every time we turn on the electricity we see the great success of Thomas Edison. And sure, we might know that he failed 1000 times first, but we don’t understand the full depth of that experience.

Which is why I’m trying to learn to embrace the failures–in all aspects of my life. But I am happy to say that one of the easiest areas to accept mistakes and failure is in writing. Don’t give me that look. Unless you are a high-market author with a reputation at stake (and I honestly have no idea what that may be like), you really don’t have that much to lose. Sure, it can be frustrating when the compelling story in your head comes out sounding like a bad translation of “When You Give a Moose a Muffin.” But the only thing stopping you from becoming a great author is you. You heard me right.┬áNow I admit that some people take more naturally to story-structure, prose, and all the little intricacies of writing. But I firmly believe you can learn every facet of it. I read this book once about how what actually sets the masters apart from the amateurs has less to do with inborn talent and more to do with refusing to quit.

So wherever you are on the writing spectrum: whether you’ve written ten books and are afraid to branch out into a new genre, or you’re crying because your second short story is as bad as the first, here’s my challenge to you: keep writing. And more than that, keep living life with all of its ups and downs. People recognize authenticity in writing.

So my new challenge to myself is to embrace the ugly along with the beautiful. The truth is that beauty and success are flat without the added dimension and depth of struggle, failure, and disappointment. Take that for a pep talk.

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