Saturday, April 14, 2007

Failure leads to success

I have been reading Tharp's The Creative Habit and have found much to like. I loved her chapter on disasters. How people do their best work often after failure. Nobody succeeds all the time. Failures humble. The best failures are the ones you make alone in your room with no one watching as you strive to perfect your material.

It is the old Thomas Edison theory about finding 9,999 ways that a light bulb didn't work. In order to get to the 10kth time, he had to try the other ways first. As Tharp points out -- contrary to the assertion in Amadeus, Mozart work hard to perfect his musical skill. The striving towards perfection means you are going to fail. It is better that you make mistakes at the start so you can develop the skills later on. One of the worst failures in Tharp's opinion is denial. You know something is weak but you are hoping against hope that no one else notices. This is also where a good editor and good critique partners or as Tharp calls them the validation squad. I trust them with my crudest and clumsiest work and they reward me with honest criticism. I put a lot of faith in them and their eye. I trust their talent. I know they have hammered my work in the past and therefore no afraid to be critical and above they want what I want -- the strongest story possible. By working with them and learning also to examine my work critically,

Revision is the biggest test in the creative process. It is the admitting that something does not work as well as you hoped/feared and then putting it right. She has a great mantra -- first put right those things you know you can fix. It is also something that I believe.
Anyway, I hope to avoid the public humiliation of a total disaster. by going through the validation process and working with my editor and critique partners. From my point of view, it was lovely to see someone else provide a clear and concise reason why it works.

I am not a master Romance novelist yet. Perhaps I never will be. But I can strive towards making my work better. There is always something to work on. I also liked her idea about polishing skills being a clock face. You polish up one, and then go on to the next until you have come full circle and the first one needs polishing again. She spoke of how dancers spend time perfecting the basics, and how the best dancers are the ones who are constantly going back and relearning their basic moves.

Anne McAllister went on and on about this book, and now I am as well. It is excellent.

I shall be drawing the winners of the Sold and Seduced contest soon. I was very pleased at the response.


Anne McAllister said...

So glad you are finding The Creative Habit as helpful and insightful as I did, Michelle.

Donna Alward said...

Right back at ya.

I'm really going to have to get this book now.