Originally published on Swirl and Thread as part of #IrishWritersWed
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Westward Ho – Samuel Beckett
Full disclosure: I’ve never even read Beckett. However I am a sucker for inspirational quotes (if only I could remember them!). I immediately pinned this one, in the hope that through some kind of Pinterest osmosis (Pinmosis, if you will) Beckett’s greatness would somehow rub off on me. A cursory glance shows it to be an insightful, motivational line that suggests perseverance will result in success. Look a little closer, however, and you will see that this statement isn’t so happy-clappy. It doesn’t mention a thing about succeeding. What it’s really saying is: Trying is failing and success is willing to fail, over and over again. What can I say; us Irish are a pessimistic lot! But there’s an authenticity there, the kind you don’t often hear in our goal-driven, success-obsessed and competitive society.
“In order to do something well, we must first be willing to do it badly.”
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
I think we all like the idea of being a writer, but the reality involves staring down your inadequacies (or at least pretending not to see them) and not crumbling at the first sign of how crap your writing is. People assume they can just sit down and start writing a brilliant novel. But like that ill-judged skiing holiday, where you assumed that the sport involved nothing more than launching yourself down a slope and letting momentum do all the work, it’s not that simple. And like skiing, the biggest challenge is taking the risk to look like a complete eejit in the hope that eventually you’ll look like less of an eejit. Oh I know us writers must sound like such moaning Michaels. ‘Writing is SO hard!’ we lament, while onlookers observe that we’re not curing cancer but whinging about a career choice we could just as easily have chosen not to do. But that’s what is so hard. Nobody gives a shit if you write that book or not. Just like nobody on your skiing holiday really cares if you make it down that mountain (well, except for maybe your family who are waiting at the bottom, wondering if they’ll now have to perform a sky burial). But essentially, no-one gives a shit, only you. So yes, writing is hard because it’s so easy to give up.
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In the meantime, both of my novels are available in eBook and paperback.