Saturday, May 14, 2011

Embracing Failure

Last night I was hanging with Steven. We were looking through movies and, inevitably, ended up in a discussion about Jonny Depp.

I always end up talking about Jonny Depp because his career is amazing to me. I admire his choices. He's never chosen roles because a movie would be a blockbuster, or because it was it was "the hot role" to go after. To him it's art. His characters are always quirky and they never fit into the same box as anything else he's done.

I like the idea that our art doesn't have to be commercial. It can be about creation and self-expression and still appeal to a wide audience.

This year has been about finding that place for me. I made a concentrated effort to let go of a lot of things. Most I haven't discussed on this blog, and probably won't. At least not any time soon. The journey has left me feeling adrift.

I haven't been struggling with my writing. Quite the opposite. I've been in a very creative place (if you don't count the anxiety surrounding my move).

I haven't finished anything, though. I have a book that is 3/4th edited. I set it aside because I started to get anxious. I've another that needs a second draft -- I can't open that one. I have the one that I'm working on -- that has been pouring out of me -- almost ready to go. And yet, I'm hesitating.

Doubt lurks. These pieces I've been writing are so much MORE of me than anything else I've ever written. Because I've intentioned them to be from the beginning. Telling myself: no one will ever see them. What is it you're meant to write? DO IT.

But I know if I finish them, someone will see them. The thought makes me a bit panicky.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I think that the messages we need to hear are there at the moments we need to hear them.

My friend, Kelly, posted this video featuring Milton Glaser on her Facebook page:

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.

“Understanding development comes from failure. People get better when they fail. They move towards failure, they discover something as a result of failing. They fail again, they discover something else… So the model for personal development is antithetical to the model for professional success.”
“The real embarrassing issue about failure is your own acknowledgement that you’re not a genius. That you’re not as good as you thought you were. And doing a project that is truly complex and difficult tests your real ability.”
“You must embrace failure. You must admit what is. You must find out what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not capable of doing. That is the only way to deal with the issue of success and failure. Because, otherwise, you simply will never subject yourself to the possibility that you are not as good as you want to be, hope to be, or as others think you are. But that is, of course, delusional.”

First of all: Oh. My. God.

Second: I watched it four times and I'm going to watch it a few more.

I fear failure. I do. I've had some success, but also enough failure to make me a cynic. And, probably, I'm too hard on myself because of it. But it has made me a better writer.

After I watched this I came away asking myself what I learned from writing the book I'm currently working on. It turns out quite a bit. I felt instantly better about failing. If it helped shape me, that's a win no matter what.

I took a few deep breaths and kicked ass today.

Now if I can only permanently affix this message in my brain.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I am going to watch the video again. I woke up in a bad place this morning. Feeling like I'd been wasting years of my life writing and trying to achieve an impossible goal.

    I am too hard on myself.

    Thanks for this post--it was just what I needed to hear to snap me out of my funk and remind myself why I write. Because if nothing else it gives me joy and an creative outlet. Plus it can be fun. :-)



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