My husband and I were married in 1996, which, in baseball terms, was Derek Jeter’s Rookie year as a Yankee. During the years that followed, we watched Jeter and the other members of the Yankees became super-successful in subsequent years. As a Yankee fan, I can tell you it was a thrilling time to follow the team.
Tonight, Jeter’s Number 2 was retired, and to commemorate the event, there were televised interviews and memories shared. But, what was it about Jeter that made him so great? Was it natural born talent? Was it that his parents raised him a particular way? Was it that he surrounded himself with people he wanted to emulate? Perhaps. More than likely, a combination of these created the baseball player he eventually would become.
During the Jeter event today, one commentator made a statement which stuck with me. He said something to the effect of “To achieve greatness, you can’t be afraid to fail.”
Ugh. That’s really hard. So many of us are programmed to “fail to fail”. We are taught that failure is bad, that failure will keep you from your goal. As a writer, failing can mean something small, like I don’t complete my word count, or something large, like secure a publishing contract. It means I might hit writer’s block and not be able to move a work forward. It could mean that the concept of a work in progress is a no-go, even when I have spent many months, or even years, trying to develop it.
Failure can be debilitating.
But it doesn’t have to be. During the Jeter festivities tonight, more than one person commented that Jeter expected to win every day. He gave his all every time out on the field. When he “failed” on the field, his took that failure as an opportunity for growth. That’s why he was such a good Yankee captain.
Jeter was successful because he wan’t afraid to fail.
As writer’s, we can use this concept to our advantage. What does failure as a writer really mean? Sure, the word count miss, or the lack of a publishing contract seems like they are fails. However, in the bigger picture, we can look at these little failures as part of our eventual path to greatness. If we keep at it, refuse to give up, change some things when what we are doing doesn’t work out, we will all get there.
Next time, when writer’s block hits, I think I will try something “radical” with my plot or characters, and see where it takes me. Maybe next time, I won’t be afraid to play with the structure of a work, if it seems to be “failing”. I hope I have the courage to do so.
I’m glad I got to watch Jeter’s celebration tonight between games of the double header. It gave me the courage to accept failure as part of a longer, more interesting, path to authorly success.
I hope things are going well with you all, and thanks for reading. Do you have any advice for spinning failure into the big picture of success? Let me know in the comments!