Fail Better

“The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to deal with rejection. It requires the willingness to be alone with oneself. To be gentle with oneself. To look at the world without blinders on. To observe and withstand what one sees. To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks. To be willing to fail — not just once but again and again, over the course of a lifetime. ‘Ever tried, ever failed,’ Samuel Beckett once wrote. ‘No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ It requires what the great editor Ted Solotoroff once calledĀ endurability.

“It is this quality, most of all, that I think of when I look around a classroom at a group of aspiring writers. Some of them will be driven, ambitious for sucess or fame, rather than by the determination to do their best possible work. But of the students I have taught, it is not necessarily the most gifted, or the ones most focused on imminent literary fame (I think of these as short sprinters), but the ones who endure who are still writing decades later.”

from Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative LifeĀ by Dani Shapiro (Grove Press, 2013)