Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sick of Twyla yet?

Okay, so I know y'all are getting sick of me yapping about Twyla Tharp, so this is the last time, I promise. (But you must own a copy of her book The Creative Habit. There - I said it again.)

She has some good stuff to say about failure.

Every writer, of course, experiences failure in various forms at various times: rejection letters, bad reviews, writers block, etc. (By the way, I love how, in Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden, rejection letters are referred to as "no thank you letters." Sounds so much nicer, doesn't it?)

Per Twyla:

"Private failures are the first drafts that get tossed in the wastebasket, the sketches crumpled up on the floor, the manuscripts that stay in the drawer....The more you fail in private, the less you will fail in public."

She goes on to list what she sees as the reasons for failure:

1. A failure of skill (you have an idea but lack the skills to pull it off) Tharp says this failure is "unforgivable: If you don't have a broad base of skills, you're limiting the number of problems you can solve when trouble hits."

2. A failure of concept (i.e., a weak idea)

3. A failure of judgment (e.g., you leave something in that should have been discarded or you let someone else's judgment substitute yours)

4. A failure of nerve (you don't have the guts to support your idea and explore the concept fully)

5. A failure of repetition (clinging to past successes). Tharp says: "...constant reminders of the things that worked inhibit us from trying something bold and new."

6. A failure of denial ("when you see that something is not working and you refuse to deal with it or convince yourself you can get away with it") [Note: This is where my critique group comes in. They never let me get away with anything. I love those guys.]

1 comment:

Kerry Madden said...

Who can get sick of Twyla? This is great...helpful and so important to remember...Now I want to read her book. Have you read Susan Reinhardt's books - NOT TONIGHT HONEY, WAIT TIL I'M SIZE SIX and DON'T SLEEP WITH A BUBBA? She's so funny and so real and in "bubba" she talks about failure and shame and guilt...it's great. They call her the Southern woman's answer to David Sedaris.

Okay time to pack