I picked this image up via a twitter link that led me to the Facebook page of a Lara Crippa. I don’t know who you are, Lara, but if that is your artwork it speaks volumes to me as writer.
Amazing, isn’t it, how you can almost glimpse a whole novel in an instant of thought. There’s the vision you have in your head, soaring towards completion, then there's the reality of turning that vision in to 300 pages of prose that others might want to read.
Interesting, then, that on the same day I found this image, I read this piece in The Guardian, 'Falling Short: seven writers reflect on failure.'
The seven - Diana Athill, Will Self, Anne Enright, Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood, Howard Jacobson, Lionel Shriver - are pretty frank about failure in relation to their writing and the rest of their lives.
It might not be a bad idea to clip the article and keep this image somewhere you can see it on the those days when the writing just won't go in a straight line.
It never will!
As Anne Enright says: "Failure is easy. I do it every day, I have been doing it for years. I have thrown out more sentences than I ever kept, I have dumped months of work ... Even when I am pointed the right way and productive and finally published, I am not satisfied by the results. This is not an affectation, failure is what writers do. It is built in."
But this is not to suggest all is doom and gloom. It's how you handle the paradox that counts, as Will Self says: "...this is the paradox for me: in failure alone is there any possibility of success. I don't think I'm alone in this – nor do I think it's an attitude that only prevails among people whose work is obviously 'creative.' On the contrary, it often occurs to me that since what successes I do manage are both experienced and felt entirely in solitude, there must be many others who are the same as me: people for whom life is a process to be experienced, not an object to be coveted."
Margaret Atwood puts it succinctly: ‘Get back on the horse that threw you … you learn as much from failure as you learn from success.’
Easy, then. No such thing as failure, just more writing opportunities…