Speaking of Failure

project in progress
project in progress

Many things inspire me. As you know, the Internet contains a vast amount of creativity. Every day I see beautiful things, lovely films, charming images, quirky poems, and on and on. Yes, I realize it harbors many horrors, but that’s not where I wish to spend my time.

Anyway, I see talented people everywhere. Not just on the Internet, but in my neighborhood and across town and many corners. Have you ever come across some surprising work of art in an unexpected place when you weren’t even looking?

In one moment, I fall a little bit in love with said art. I want to make something amazing too. I want to make something someone will fall in love with. Then the doubt creeps in, like a tentacle pushing in through the corner of the room. It peeks in over the baseboards. It threatens to slither in and take over. I can’t possibly make something as wonderful.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” ― Theodore Roosevelt


Focusing on my own work is the best way to keep that tentacle under the floor. I also think it is a good to talk about all my false starts and thrown away pieces.

My work space is filled rem ants of failed projects. The other day, I was looking for a tiny metal container of tiger balm I’d gotten ages ago. I’m not the most organized person, and this search started in the bathroom and continued in my office. I pulled out boxes and drawers. I never found the tiger balm, but I found all kinds of things I’d bought for projects that never worked. It spins me sometimes to think of the money I’ve wasted–a few dollars here, a few dollars there–on supplies for failure.

Some day, I might go through all these odds and ends and come up with something new.

And then there are the failed short stories and the unfinished novels. But those I’m still determined to go back to. Every author and artist has incomplete or failed work. We just don’t get to see that.

But wait a minute.

What is failure? You have to go take steps to get anywhere. You may take a few steps this way before you realize you have to go that way. And not every step will go by breathtaking views. Some steps are uphill and some on rocky ground and some on ice. You get the idea. But you have to keep taking steps. Which step is failure?

Or am I saying this to make myself feel better?

Well, to paraphrase a popular film, “Just keeping making, just keep making…”

2 thoughts on “Speaking of Failure

  1. Pingback: I Fail, to exist | Shelley Souza

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