Failure is not fatal.

How do you define success? Take this picture on your left (please try to ignore the lack of apostrophes. Apparently dogs are lousy with grammar);

The blinds are wrecked, the windows will need cleaning and there will be pillow cases to wash…but the dog (I’m thinking a young boxer) did get the fly. Success?

Sure. He accomplished his goal.

But I’m pretty sure his human won’t be pleased. Boxer pup may even be punished. Still a success? I think so.

So now you’re a new writer and you publish a book. No one buys it except your mother. Can the author claim success? Sure. You set a goal to write a book, and you did. If your goal was to write a bestseller, than no, you didn’t succeed. Keep trying.

Where am I going with this? Not sure. This is what happens when I ramble, but I’m thinking I’m trying to make some point. Like, maybe, set achievable goals. Take small steps. Don’t jump in over your head and then be upset when you drown.

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.        Bill Gates

There was a lot of publicity about Mr. Stephen Glass when, as an ambitious young reporter with a very promising future, it was determined Mr. Glass was making up news and attempting to pass it off as true. Newspaper reporters are not supposed to make things up; they are supposed to report facts. So, he was fired and publicly denounced. Trounced, as a matter of fact. His fellow reporters showed no mercy.

He decided to go to law school. Go figure. But, even with a law degree, no one would hire him. He had shamed himself and his profession. It didn’t matter how many times he apologized or how many times he hung his head and admitted he was wrong. Now, Mr. Glass had no one to blame but himself. He knew what he was doing when he compromised the ethics of his profession. He had taken his brilliant future and turned it into no future at all.

Then, his resume ended up on Mr. Paul Zuckerman’s desk. And Mr. Zuckerman, an American lawyer, hired Mr. Glass because: “I’ve always found brilliance untempered by failure is purely arrogance but brilliance that has overcome failure can be truly useful to your fellow man”

In other words, if you can reach the height of success, what you consider success, then be knocked down to lower than where you were to begin with, and then, instead of wallowing  in self-pity, you summon the courage to work your way back up to the top…you will be a better person because of it. Gives me hope for Tiger Woods.

I admire Mr. Zuckerman. I also admire these guys;

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.    David Brinkley    Any writer with rejection slips can identify with this quote.

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.          Bill Cosby            Because you can’t. Just can’t.

And finally,  my favourite;

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.      Winston Churchill

Failure is not fatal. I like that.



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12 Responses to Failure is not fatal.

  1. S. J. Crown says:

    Hey, I’d say that 18 comments on one post defines a certain level of success. Congrats!
    If you want my thoughts from last March on this, or at least a similar, topic, I shamelessly invite you to read this post where I compare writing to playing basketball. And if what I’ve written is drivel, a fair possibility, the post includes a link to one of Steven Pressfield’s more eloquent blog entries.

    • ajcap says:

      Stan, at least half of the comments are mine!
      I will most certainly check out that post, though I’ve probably already read it since I check into your site quite often. And you are incapable of writing drivel. You’d have to study a book on “How to Write Drivel” in order to even get close.

  2. Val says:

    you are good….thanks…

  3. john malone says:

    I like this blog. It is sharp and accurate. And thanks btw for reading and commenting on my story, ‘Pool’

    • ajcap says:

      Thank you, John, for taking the time to check out my blog and comment! Sorry for the late response. I was out of town with my pup, she needed surgery.
      I checked out your blog, as well, though not as thoroughly as I would like. Will get back to it soon, but meanwhile, let me just say, again, how much I enjoyed ‘Pool’. The staccato sentences, the voice, the ending; all made for a strong story. Look forward to reading more! Cheers, and good luck to you.

  4. Steve Capper says:

    What is this talk of failure? surely this can only mean that agreed parameters were not reached/exceeded? Who did you agree these with? Only yourself surely, so no one else is equipped to accuse you of failure. This kind of self-recrimination is not helpful. Writing is not a sport, where a “winner” gains more points or goals within a set period of time. This is ART whereby something, new and unique, is created and in your format from no physical materials whatsoever. So where is the failure? Besides we are Cappers! We laugh at defeat. (show me a man who laughs at defeat, and I’ll show you a black chiropodist with a sense of humour)

    • ajcap says:

      A writer can’t help but feel a failure when they get rejection letters. Wrong of us, and something we need to work on because not every publisher is going to like every story we send them. Artists are depicted as the sensitive sort but, in reality, we have to develop a thick skin. So, you’re right, (aren’t you always?), self-recrimination is not helpful and I will stop indulging in it right this minute.
      I have never laughed at defeat but I have, all my life, laughed at…oops…with you.

  5. Linda MS says:

    I can laugh at defeat. Later. After time has dulled the initial pain.

    And no, I don’t assume that a failure means that I’m less of a person. Although, it feels that way at the time.

    This was a good post about keeping your perspective about your writing.

    Great job.

  6. BK Jackson says:

    I like that. Failure is not fatal. Well nearly always. Unless your chute doesn’t open after you jump from the plane….

    • ajcap says:

      Ah. Quite right. Silver lining, though. You wouldn’t have a lot of time to dwell on your failure. Very, very, thin silver lining.

      Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Brenda. I will promptly return the favour and go check out your blog.

      Cheers, Amanda

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