Failure and Negativity

Failure as it relates to writing does not mean I am negative. Does it?

I’ve had people tell me I am negative. The ex-girlfriend and my sister told me I was always focusing on the negative. And I do believe I am a pessimist as it relates to a range of topics. Religion. Politics. Race relations. History. My own actions.

But Mike Rose writes about failed education and failed literacy as a phenomenological study of literacy. A focus on writing or education as it is as opposed to how we want to prescribe it to be. And I believe that is what I am doing with these thoughts. And I must remind myself to focus on the neccessitites of revision as well as the wants for revision. To look at the work objectively. To assess my own work. To tweak my own asthetic.

To learn from failure. To wear my failure with pride as the fail blog advises. Or to learn from my mistakes as Gail Godwin states. To make myself a better person as I draft as well as a better writer. I like the sound of that. But I do admit to obsessing about those failures as well as a resistance to calling failures art. Unlike Jean Cocteau. That’s art school stuff Lolo would never approve of.

Bukowski said that the final judge of writing is the writer–not critics or editors or even the reader. He writes in Factotum that the writer believes the reader’s accolades instead of being skeptical of them. The writing must serve the audience, yes. The writing must serve the MFA thesis committee. But the revision must serve the writing. This is what I try to engage and coerce within my own writing mind and within my classes. Revision not just being for the school or the instructor. But revision for the writer. A sense that we should never be satisfied with our drafts–until we abandon them as the cliche goes.

So I don’t believe I am negative. I write every day and do not feel I am negative or not as my failed relationships in life have suggested. I am pushed by my failures and pushed to revise by my failure to create the fictive spaces I desire to create. And does this mean I am focusing on the negative. No. I am learning about my enemies as Rage Against the Machine advises. Learning about my enemies and my failures.

More on failed writing to come…

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

One thought on “Failure and Negativity”

  1. Sometimes I think the most liberating thing anyone has ever said to me is, “Deborah, make your mistakes proudly.”

    Another failed writer,

    Deborah B.

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