Happy New Year to you. I couldn’t give up on the chance to write a post on the very first day of 2018, could I? So here I am with a #MondayMusings post, late but still on Monday. Today I’ve been musing on whether taking a risk to do something and fail at it is worth anything? Do we always have to succeed? What is success. Success or risk which matters more?
Success Or Risk Which Matters More
Reading the New York Times today, I read Roxanne Gay’s writing in her column ‘Ask Roxanne’. To questions about whether it was too late for writers to follow in their 50-60s to follow their dreams, she responded:
The older we get, the more culturally invisible we become, as writers, as people. But you have your words. Writing and publishing are two very different things. Other writers are not your measure. Try not to worry about what other people your age or younger have already accomplished because it will only make you sick with envy or grief. The only thing you can control is how you write and how hard you work. The literary flavor of the week did not get your book deal. All the other writers in the world are not having more fun than you, no matter what it might seem like on social media, where everyone is showing you only what they want you to see.
Write as well as you can, with as much heart as you can, whenever you can. Make sure there are people in your life who will have faith in your promise when you can’t. Get your writing in the world, ideally for the money you deserve because writing is work that deserves compensation. But do not worry about being closer to 50 or 65 or 83. Artistic success, in all its forms, is not merely the purview of the young. You are not a late bloomer. You are already blooming.
Ah! Just the kind of advice I needed to hear today. What this says to me is that it’s better to start late, to take a risk, to go out on a limb than to never start for fear of failure. I can’t tell you how many notebooks I’ve started and left off with my Morning Pages, but it never stops me from starting again. This year, I’m trying out a bullet journal, despite failing at it badly last year. But having failed, I’ve realized what I want my bullet journal to be.
Sometimes I’m embarrassed to share how badly I’ve failed in the goals I’ve set for myself. But what would my life be if I gave up simply because I’ve failed?
How can we succeed if we don’t risk? How can we learn if we never make mistakes? How will we grow if we never try?
I leave you with Neil Gaiman’s powerful words, as I remind myself about them too:
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
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