Having just failed at something, I typed “on failure” into Google. I wanted to wallow, to exaggerate, to really go into the feeling that this is the End of the World, that Nothing Could be Worse (impossible to type these things and continue to be serious). Of course it’s not the end of the world and a lot of things are far, far worse. I still have the use of all my faculties, most of my health. My nearest and dearest are all, as I write this, alive and accounted for.
Anyway, see how quickly I’ve moved from wanting to get to the bottom of failure all the way over to “It’s not that bad”?
This mirrors what just happened on Google. I wanted to read about the abject, miserable, total and utter failure of others. What I got was a series of chirpy “failure is crucial to success” pieces topped off by the story of J.K. Rowling, who was once a poverty-stricken single mother and is now stratospherically successful.
But what about the non-J.K. Rowlings? That’s what I want to find out about. People with dreams, talent, determination, intelligent perseverance, who practice every day, write a little every day … and still fail. The people for whom there is no happy ending, only disappointment. Where am I going to get that story?
The other day my friend Lisa told me (in a text message) about her sister’s husband’s uncle. This man, John Cramer, “was a v talented cartoonist but had not come 2 much getting published only a few times in Private Eye. He was part of a troupe of cartoonists who designed for the yellow submarine film but he was the one who actually created said submarine!”
Interesting. Another person might consider designing the yellow submarine and getting published in Private Eye at all the very definition of success. As the chirpy pieces say, it’s all about what you wanted, what you thought you might get, what you thought you might be allowed to hope for. And then having that dashed, smashed, nebulised.
Maybe I could write a book or make a documentary about failure, and in this way, become a success.