Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Successful Writers Reflect On Failure

As this blog began all those years ago as an anonymous document of failure after my 2-book fiction deal wasn't renewed, I had to post this Guardian article:

Plenty of nuggets here as Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Will Self and Lionel Shriver reflect on failure.

I loved Will Self's:

'A creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism – you learn this as you go on.'

Howard Jacobson's:

'..failures are nothing if not grandiose. If the world doesn't value us, we won't value the world. We seek solace in books, in solitary and sometimes fantastical thinking, in doing with words what boys who please their fathers do with balls. We look down on what our fellows like, and make a point of liking what our fellows don't. We become special by virtue of not being special enough. I doubt many writers were made any other way.'

And Anne Enright:

'...A book is not written for the crowd, but for one reader at a time. A novel is written (rather "pathetically) not to be judged, but experienced. You want to meet people in their own heads – at least I do. I still have this big, stupid idea that if you are good enough and lucky enough you can make an object that insists on its own subjective truth, a personal thing, a book that shifts between its covers and will not stay easy on the page, a real novel, one that lives, talks, breathes, refuses to die. And in this, I am doomed to fail.'

After a few tough years unrelated to the writing side, I used to be so sad, and worried, but am, now, finally, happy in my own writer's skin. The Deal or No Deal, all or nothing, element has long ago been eliminated. I can live a life of writing without the worry. That is what I think successful authors are envied for by other writers above all else: the freedom they have to carry on writing.

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