Measures of success

I recently blogged about failure and redefining it in order to become a better writer. There was a piece in the Guardian Review this weekend, in which writers talked about their own definitions of failure and success.

I loved Will Self’s comment, that “the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short.” I recently wrote about something akin to that feeling, in a piece for my MA about the genesis of my (as yet unfinished) novel.

On the subject of novels, I also enjoyed Anne Enright’s view that “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.”

It was very interesting and encouraging to read Diana Athill’s comment that “it is possible to recover from failure: to digest it, make use of it and forget it.” Or Margaret Atwood’s closing gambit: “Get back on the horse that threw you, as they used to say. They also used to say: you learn as much from failure as you learn from success.”

I received a rejection email for a piece of writing this week, and while I was disappointed, I wasn’t disheartened. Quite the opposite, in fact. I see that in itself as a positive step forward in my own perception of failure, and taking what I need from it to continue to strive.

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