Failure: A Fundamental Piece of the Process

In an interview in Novel Voices, author Richard Bausch talks about the need for emerging writers to accept failure as a destiny. While rejection stings and we often feel as if we are the lone person whose work is being rejected, it’s a much more universal and integral experience than that, so much so that Bausch believes it’s imperative writers make it a part of their life’s outlook.

In the interview, he says, “If you’re not scared, there’s something wrong with you. Your talent will be tested, and you have to be willing to accept failure as a part of this. You say, ‘I accept failure as my destiny’ the same way you say, ‘I accept death as my destiny.'”

I thought these words were profound and accurate. Failure is a part of the writer’s life. It’s inevitable. It’s what’s meant to happen. Get used to it. Failure becomes a fundamental piece of the journey, just as death is a fundamental piece of life. We try and we will fail. That means we must try again — and again. Perhaps writing requires the constant assumption of failure so that when we succeed we’ll be pleasantly surprised. In some ways, the idea is very Buddhist. Our first principle, our first rule, is that the writer’s life equals suffering. By keeping that in mind, we can cultivate gratitude and therefore, happiness with each small success. This makes sense I suppose since a writer’s solitary, humble and silent life is similar to a monk’s anyway.

Read Richard Bausch’s Ten Commandments for Writers.

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