“Failure Chic”: What I’ve been doing most of my life

Dang!

I just heard this commentary by Rob Walker on WYSO, our local public radio station.  The piece talks about this new notion that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you must embrace failure as more than necessary: false starts and falls are desirable.  Something on which to capitalize, figuratively, and literally (if you can get some speaking engagements out of it, that is.)  As I listened, I realized that this kind of failure is what I’ve been doing for a long time, as I practice writing.

Idea after idea, word after word, draft after draft will in some way fail.  It will not be perfect, it might not even be good.  And yet all these things build up to something, I hope, and get me where I am now.  I have a blog.  A few lovely people read it.  I have gotten things published over the years.  I have gotten heartbreaking, beautiful rejection letters (and phone calls!) from agents who adore my novel but cannot envision a way to sell it.

Serious writers know that we must continually fail in order to get something good.  It’s interesting to me that other creative innovators are starting to talk about this.  Maybe I need to find one of these entrepreneurs who wants to fail fabulously, see if she will love my novel, and publish it.

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10 responses to ““Failure Chic”: What I’ve been doing most of my life

  1. What a great message. Fear about failure can be crippling, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Denny, you’re so right. But maybe just this clever reframing of failure will help… yeah, I WANT to fail! So let’s try something. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  3. ‘I need to find one of these entrepreneurs who wants to fail fabulously, see if she will love my novel, and publish it.’ – what a wonderful idea!

    And you’re right, of course. We build on, and learn from, our failures, if we’re paying attention.

    Thanks –

  4. Cyndi, so true. It’s the paying attention–and the humility–that teach us. Hard to pay attention sometimes with the cacophony. Working on it.

  5. it was a good radio piece, and certainly food for thought; i didn’t hear it thru a writerly prism, but thru a business filter (merely a statement on where i am in life at the moment) and really felt some small epiphany in it… business has gotten away from feeling that creative failure is worthy and worthwhile, and we should get back to it…

  6. Anytime the idea of creative practice can inform business, sounds like a good thing.

  7. Carol Phillips

    I did a search for John Ott and your blog came up. I just returned from a nostalgic visit to the village. One memory that did not reset was the location of his store that was so important to me when I lived there. No doubt my conversations with him were most important. Do you recall the actual location?
    Carol

  8. Hi Carol! According to my memory, John Ott had two locations: first the shop at the location by Kings Yard–between Luttrel’s/Weaver’s/Tom’s Market and the Tavern. It’s now Asanda Imports (and years ago was the Winds Cafe, before they moved to the other side of the street). His second shop was in the place that’s now EcoMental, which was also for a long time the clock shop, and is next to formerly Hasser’s Barber shop on Xenia Avenue. I think I have that order right, but it could be the other way around. Thanks for finding me. Nice to know another person who remembers that wonderful grouch, John Ott.

  9. Carol Phillips

    Thank you so much for a prompt reply. We had a wonderful weekend of walk-abouts and memory trails through the village and the glen. After all this time the village has held up well in all the right places. I even enjoyed the new Winds….not so much the new Youngs. We spent four days at the Arthur Morgan house which I strongly recommend.

  10. The Arthur Morgan House is wonderful! Glad you had a good time.

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