Failure

It’s been a while since I posted a new thought. In the past, I would have written the whole blog off as a failure and have started up something new, but at the beginning of this adventure, I made sure to let a generous amount of people know what I was planning. A bit of accountability? Maybe.

I’ve been giving the word failure a lot of thought lately. I hear people talk about how they are afraid of taking risks because they are afraid to fail. If I could impart any wisdom, I’d say, just jump in and just go for it. This, from a former – do the ‘safe’ thing proponent. Yeah, there will be some failures, but let’s keep it in perspective. You need some failed attempts to get to the success part.

I’m trying not to think of anything in terms of failure anymore since the word itself evokes such a feeling of shame and embarrassment in most people. I try to relegate failure to things that are quantitatively measureable like a blood test, a science experiment, an inedible cooking experience, or an exam. What I want to do is reframe my assessment of the situation when I don’t meet my expected outcome so that my desire to move forward is not hampered by the misery the word failure evokes.

Some of this inspiration has come from Thomas Edison, who bravely experimented again and again and again until he finally succeeded in improving the light bulb. Referring to his experience he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Edison understood that failure was an integral part of the process. I’ve also been inspired by Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King who appear to write non-stop. Not all of what they publish is great or even good, but they continually produce so they are always moving forward. Oates said, “”I’m drawn to failure. I feel that I’m contending with it constantly in my own life.” Is she drawn to failure or drawn to the possibilities that exist in the journey itself?

Taking the power out of the word failure may leave us freer as artists to enjoy the actual process of creating instead of putting so much emphasis on the final product and how it works or how it is received. Regardless of success or failure each experience is a part of us and therefore has tremendous value in our creative lives. And isn’t that the point, after all? This journey of creativity, though we share our work with others, is about us either literally or figuratively and though the risks are great, the rewards of expression are far greater.

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