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Thursday, May 03, 2007


Value For Failure

Ever wonder what in the world you are supposed to be learning from this situation? It happens to me on a regular basis. I've been trying to add to these entries on The Writing Life but other events have crowded into my schedule. I've been on the road again and on a slammed schedule which hasn't allowed any time for blogging. I continue to learn valuable lessons and insight through different experiences. It's what I've tried to capture in many of these entries. I'm off on another trip today (the second one this week) but it's a special one--our 12th anniversary. While I am not real crazy about Las Vegas, it's where we're headed later today. It's the last year for Celine Dion and her show, A New Day. It should be fun and a quick trip--over today and back tomorrow. It's a glimpse into my life but I hope it helps you understand why I haven't been as consistent with my entries here.

One of the publications which I enjoy reading is Fast Company. This month includes a fascinating article called, "Failure Doesn’t Suck" about Sir James Dyson. I recommend the entire article but make sure you read this opening, "Today, Dyson makes the best-selling vacuum cleaner by revenue in the United States and is one of the richest blokes in Britain. But it took him 15 years and nearly his entire savings to develop his bagless, transparent creation. His latest innovation, a hand dryer that uses neither heat nor evaporation, took only three years, but Dyson says his grinding, error-filled approach hasn't changed.

You once described the inventor's life as "one of failure." How so?

I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative."

What an example of persistence! I've met many writers who have sent out their manuscript once or twice and been rejected, then they quit. They stick it back in their desk drawer and figure no one wanted to publish their work. In some cases, the proposal or manuscript wasn't good and should have been rejected. The rejection isn't always for that reason. There are many reasons for rejection and some of them are tied to the author's work and some of them have nothing to do with the author. As I've written many times, it's a matter of getting to the right publisher at the right time with the right manuscript. It's like every detail has to line up right for it to happen and many authors are not willing to fail or persist to find that perfect spot. Are you learning from your failure and growing from them? I hope today each of us can follow the example of Sir James Dyson.

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4 Comment:

At 1:45 PM, Blogger Kristina Left a note...

WOW. Thanks for that inspiring story, Terry.

As a Christian, I often take a lack of success to mean that God doesn't want me pursuing something...But maybe I need to be more careful about making that assumption!

Kristina

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger Kristina Left a note...

P.S. Happy anniversary!

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger Richard Mabry Left a note...

Happy anniversary, Terry. Hope you enjoy Las Vegas. Interesting that you should blog about failure on a day that I got an email from my agent that a publisher had rejected the manuscript of my first novel. Oh, well. About 5000 more tries to go--or does that number just apply to vacuum cleaners?

 
At 7:38 PM, Blogger Crystal Warren Miller Left a note...

Happy Anniversary to the Whalins! Viva Las Vegas! Celine will be a good show. Hope it is special.

And great words about rejection. It is actually encouraging if you think about it--that if you can just persevere, always learning. Thanks for taking time in your busy schedule to post.

 

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