It happens to the best of us.
One only has to look at the countless blogs, websites, photo galleries, video montages, and television shows dedicated to people messing up, doing stupid things, and best intentions turning disastrously bad to realize that everyone fails, in some sense of the term, at some point in their existence – and our society has come d0wn with a slight obsession with watching people do so. I guess it’s fair to say that watching other people fail usually means you aren’t, or, at the very least, makes your fails seem less fail-y.
Coming off of a two week hiatus from The Artist’s Way, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to fail. To take it a step further, I’ve been thinking about what the conclusion means about me once I’ve determined whether I’ve actually failed or not. What separates failure from success? What does it mean if I’ve failed? Do I have to start over? Can I pick up where I left off? Has the entire endeavor been made less effective because of a tad of failure in the middle?
The Artist’s Way was the great endeavor of my new year. I had committed myself to taking the time and the space necessary to develop my passion, creativity, and inner artist. Yet, for the past two weeks, I haven’t read a single page from the book (despite completing five straight weeks ot readings and exercises with great success!). I haven’t blogged. I haven’t gone on a new Artist’s Date. I haven’t done any exercises or even created on my own. I’ve been in a downright creative funk.
But, it happens to the best of us, right?
As a part of my creative recovery, I am choosing not to beat myself up over the two-week vacation from productivity I unwittingly took. Mind you, this is new for me. I am generally the queen of self-loathing and guilt – I can get down on myself with the best of ‘em, but lamenting over the past couple of weeks certainly isn’t going to help me to embrace the coming week (I’ve already blogged! It’s a great start!), and, if I continue to think of my inner artist as an actual being that I’m dating, wooing, and nurturing, I suppose she’d much rather I apologize, shrug it off, and set to making up for the two-week absence than scream at her.
Failure can masquerade in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. My two weeks do not represent the greatest of my failures, nor the slightest. I’m sure you’ve experienced failures that have been worse, and failures that have not. These two weeks, however, do represent the first failure, no matter how big or significant, that I will choose to embrace as a lesson, and no more. A hiccup, as it were, in the 12 weeks I originally set out to complete, and I will still complete them.
I read once that Dr. Suess was rejected by 27 publishers before finding a taker for his first book, To Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street. I’m not sure I’ve ever been the type of person to make it through 27 publishers without being discouraged, giving up, or dramatically vowing to never write again, but I aim to be. I intend to become the type of person that embraces failures, set backs, and things unplanned as learning opportunities, figures out what they have to say, and moves on.
Perhaps every success is peppered with just the right amount of failure – how else would Dr. Suess have found success with the right publisher if 27 wrong publishers hadn’t rejected him?