In an article about musician, Arlo Guthrie, in the Boston Globe yesterday, he was quoted as saying:
"If you do anything for 40 years, you can do it comfortably. And it will always be good. But unless you're willing to risk it being bad, it can never be great."
That sounded very similar to what Twyla Tharp meant when she talked about failure (in my post below) - specifically, the failure of repetition.
I think some of the best writers often take risks and write outside their box once in a while. They're not afraid to risk trying something different. Some of them succeed at it and some of them don't.
One author who comes to mind in this area is Kate DiCamillo. She could have stayed in that box of contemporary realistic fiction that she started in with Winn Dixie and Tiger Rising. But instead, she took a risk and wrote something different - Despereaux, Edward Tulane, Mercy Watson.
I adore her writing. She writes with heart and great skill. (And, oh, the sappy drama of some of it. But I like sappy drama.)
She finds perfect words in perfect places.
She's not afraid to take risks. (Another one of Twyla's failures is the failure of nerve. Ms. DiCamillo does not lack nerve, IMHO.)
She doesn't get too comfortable in repetition.
You go, Kate.
Another author who comes to mind is Jack Gantos. I mean, Rotten Ralph vs those creepy Rumbaughs? Joey Pigza vs Hole in My Life?
You go, Jack.