Hello, children. I’d like to tell you a story.
Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin.
This is a story about failure. This is a story about well-meaning people who have committed their lives to doing spectacular things, only to fall horribly short in the critical moment of execution. This is a story about how trying is more important than success.
Once upon a time, someone had an awesome idea. It was a lovely, pure thought. It made sense and everybody got decently excited about it. It was revolutionary. It captured a flavor of life that was dangerously unappreciated, like some sort of lychee chocolate, only not horrible.
It was the very thing this time and age needed.
So off to the races we went. People did stuff to make a thing. Talented people. People near enough to the top of their game to bother with unfamiliar territory. Big risks, big pictures and blue skies. The thing really looked to be shaping up to be A Thing. It may even be worthy of the definite article. Careers are built on definite articles. Signpost moments of spectacular convergence, where all mortars fire in glorious harmony and collide in a shower of brilliance.
But it wasn’t.
The first clues that The Thing would never deliver on the promise it made for itself lay in the first few meetings. What was written off as exuberance is revealed to be naivete. What was forgiven as passion is recognized as a furtive desire to accomplish that which has not yet been accomplished. What was mistaken for moxie is exposed as a tissue of breathless half-lies. We all wanted the best, but we were incapable of facing the impossible reality of the situation we found ourselves in.
The blinding realization well-heeded, we doubled down. Sacrificing sleep and good health for the sake of making a loose collection of stuff into A Thing, The Thing that Deserved To Be, a motley crew of tactful, clever folks attempted to elevate the work from an arduous trial to be survived to the transcendental experienced we had promised ourselves. By the sheer will of our bloody-mindedness, we would force into being this essential Thing. All due attention was paid and all due wisdom applied, not to mention the carnival of favors called to cover the shortfall.
THE FALLING SHORT
And short it indeed fell. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a collection of rad people hoping to accomplish something that should be, by all rights, impossible, will be in want of an unknown quantity of resources to accomplish the increasingly impossible Thing. However little known the feelings or views of such a group of creative individuals may be on their first entering a project, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding players, that they are considered as the rightful property of some one or other of those dependent upon their brilliance. Such a classical view, endemic to the pathological dreamers amongst us, causes the truly brave to redouble their efforts when up against the wall. Which, in nearly all cases, results in a group of people meandering at the back of the room, looking at the fruit of the horrors we have wrought.
This in-depth example of the process of crafting new work is painstakingly sourced from years of experience. Let it be a guide to you through your darkest hours; many have walked this path before. It is your sworn duty, against all odds, to succeed.
What are some of your experiences with failure? Please share in the comments.