for writers and readers….

“…failure is what writers do.” Anne Enright QUOTES FOR WRITERS (AND PEOPLE WHO LIKE QUOTES)

FAILURE AND SUCcESSI have no problem with failure – it is success that makes me sad. Failure is easy. I do it every day, I have been doing it for years. I have thrown out more sentences than I ever kept, I have dumped months of work, I have wasted whole years writing the wrong things for the wrong people. Even when I am pointed the right way and productive and finally published, I am not satisfied by the results. This is not an affectation, failure is what writers do. It is built in. Your immeasurable ambition is eked out through the many thousand individual words of your novel, each one of them written and rewritten several times, and this requires you to hold your nerve for a very long period of time – or forget about holding your nerve, forget about the wide world and all that anxiety and just do it, one word after the other. And then redo it, so it reads better. The writer’s great and sustaining love is for the language they work with every day. It may not be what gets us to the desk but it is what keeps us there and, after 20 or 30 years, this love yields habit and pleasure and necessity.
Anne Enright

9 comments on ““…failure is what writers do.” Anne Enright QUOTES FOR WRITERS (AND PEOPLE WHO LIKE QUOTES)

  1. E A M Harris
    March 20, 2016

    I prefer the term ‘learning opportunity’. It gives the failure a future.

    • bridget whelan
      March 20, 2016

      While I like Anne Enright’s clear-sighted approach, I agree failure sounds like a dead end followed by a full stop. In class I talk about making mistakes (I suppose that’s a ‘lite’ version of failure) saying that together we have to create a place of safety, a place where we can make mistakes without being demolished by them, because if we are going to write we will make mistakes as surely as day follows night.

      • worldsrooom
        October 25, 2018

        I think that having a safe place to make mistakes is what creative writing classes are about, although with any luck students may be able to develop their writing skills. Feeling safe to make mistakes is an essential part of having any chance of doing this. I was apprehensive about the idea of writing poetry until I was encouraged to do so this year in a class. A good introduction to this was to have our teacher tell us that “poetry does not have to rhyme” which is something she tells all school children when starting a course. I found it difficult to write in a free way inititially and hack a piece of writing about in an un-inhibited fashion and accept making mistakes without panicking and getting discouraged. It’s a great advantage that the teacher we have has a very positive outlook and emphasizes progress students have made over the sessions she has taught. Using exercises in various books (including yours) is helpful in overcoming reluctance to write as well as moving on when I feel at an impasse. I have just discovered your website and believe I will find it helpful. Thanks for letting me join.

    • worldsrooom
      October 25, 2018

      Every problem is supposed to be an opportunity in disguise – sometimes it’s a very convincing disguise but that’s the way it goes.

  2. Mira Prabhu
    March 20, 2016

    Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    “Failure is easy. I do it every day, I have been doing it for years. I have thrown out more sentences than I ever kept, I have dumped months of work, I have wasted whole years writing the wrong things for the wrong people.” Yes, writing seriously is hard work – but for some of us, it is also our magnificent obsession…thank you Anne Enright and Bridget Whelan!

    • bridget whelan
      March 20, 2016

      Thanks for re-blogging. Glad you like Anne Enright’s quote as much as I do.

  3. Joseph Rubin
    March 20, 2016

    Thank you Anne Enright and Bridget Whelan, for all the insights you share; and thanks also to Mira Prabhu for reminding me of my sweat and self-doubt before I self-published Diabetes in Crosshairs, A Map of My Personal Journey, Kindle Edition, June 2014. My Kindle book is like a contented, well-fed baby, sleeping in a cornfield, and nobody knows my book is there. I should have done something different, such as using a more attractive title of my book that highlights health & happiness which everybody loves. I am of novel writers who have written for decades. I dread the idea that, if I venture into novel writing, for love of writing in itself, I will be carrying a huge rock on my back while walking up-hill. My appetite is larger than my tummy!.

  4. Joseph Rubin
    March 20, 2016

    edit my comment: “I am envious of novel writers….”

    • bridget whelan
      March 20, 2016

      But it’s the willingness to carry the rock on your back that marks you out as a writer, don’t you think?

      …and as far as self-publishing goes, you can’t just be a writer. You have to be a promoter and publisher as well because that’s the only way people will learn that you have a book they might like.

      Promote it – there’s a wealth of information on the web from other self-published authors to guide you. No heavy sell, just make people aware that it exists. Or withdraw it, rename it, revise it, make it the best book you can make it, pay for a professionally designed cover. Put it back on Amazon. Consider going into print as well (print on demand) – give away your ebook for a week. Do stuff. Best advice I ever got was: if you do something, something will happen…. and go write that novel if you have a story that has to be told…

      Good luck!

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2016 by in Quotes, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .


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