“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale.
An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.
The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized. I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.
And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Cover photo via Daniel Ogren