Although - when all is considered - one writer's failure is another writer's envy. [DE]
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Falling short: seven writers reflect on failure
Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Will Self and Lionel Shriver reflect on their own disappointments in life, love and work
Illustration by Neil Webb/Debut Art
• Diana Athill: 'It is possible to make use of failure, and forget it'
• Margaret Atwood: 'Get back on the horse that threw you'
• Julian Barnes: 'Success to one person can be failure to another'
• Ann Enright: 'Failure is what writers do. It is built in'
• Howard Jacobson: 'You have to see failure as an opportunity'
• Will Self: 'People say my writing is dreadful and pretentious'
• Lionel Shriver: 'No one wants to buy a book about disappointment'
Margaret Atwood. Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters
Failure is just another name for much of real life: much of what we set out to accomplish ends in failure, at least in our own eyes. Who set the bar so high that most of our attempts to sail gracefully over it on the viewless wings of Poesy end in an undignified scramble or a nasty fall into the mud? Who told us we had to succeed at any cost?
But my own personal failure list? It's a long one. Sewing failures, to begin with. The yellow shortie coat with the lopsided hem I crafted when I was 12? It made me look like a street waif, and caused my mother to hide her eyes every time I ventured out the door in it. Or maybe you'd prefer a few academic failures? My bad Latin mark in Grade 12, my 51 in Algebra? Or my failure to learn touch-typing: now that had consequences.
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