Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don’t work. You will find
that you may rewrite and rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right.
Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you
bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work
you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first
poem is responsible for the sudden ease of the second. If you just sit
around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work. (Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town)
So true. And it somewhat echoes what I said at my keynote in Austin this past weekend: If you’re not failing, you’re probably not shooting high enough.
Everyone fails. That’s not the important part. What’s important is what you do next. Are you learning? Are you growing? Is your experience making you bigger—or is it shrinking you down, making you small?
Particularly in a time of tremendous change in the industry, it is inevitable that some—even many—of our efforts will fail. I hope it can contribute to your progress, rather than stop it.
Looking for more words of wisdom about the writing life? I highly recommend Page After Page by Heather Sellers.