Failure's Only Threat

One of the worst mistakes you can make about your work is to view it as a kind of test. Will you get it right when you sit down at your desk today? There is a certain appeal to tests. The triumph of success is perhaps worth the threat of failure, for doesn’t everything worthwhile come with risks?

Yes, everything does come with risks, but not the risk of failure. The idea of failure is a kind of romantic nihilism, that our one chance has come and gone and we were not fast enough, smart enough, or brave to grab it—a reverse sentimentality for those not sure if they would like to try again what they could not achieve at first.

I love typing The End, but nothing ever ends. Endings are a convenient necessity of fiction, but you must forget about them when facing the question of success or failure. You are in constant training for a race you will never run against anyone but yourself. You train yourself every day to listen better, to be more patient, to be more trusting. With these tools you can write whatever it is you need to write.

But when you write, you must be willing to risk something and it is this: That you have believed something that wasn’t true. And at some point, without intending to, your writing will push you up against what it is you wish to be true but isn’t. You will probably not want to go where it is the writing is pointing you because if you do then you are not sure if you will know how to be happy if you let go of this false thing which never made you happy but was forever promising, like a blind date that never shows but keeps calling to say he will, that great fun is coming if you’d only hold out a little longer.

Risk losing what you don’t need. You cannot lose what you do need, because all you need is what interests you most. This you can choose to ignore, but in the mean time it will always be there, as long as you can open your eyes and wonder what you’d like to do next.

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