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Failing

I’ve been thinking about failure these days. I owe it to an interview with a man who is a glassblower. The interviewer asked, “What is the most important thing a good glassblower must know?” He answered, “The willingness to fail.”


When I first started taking workshops, I had to be willing to fail. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t learn anything, and my writing wouldn’t get any better. My teacher, Mary Stewart Hammond, encouraged us to bring in works in progress, work that needed – well, work. If it was perfect, there was no reason to bring it to the workshop. I needed to be comfortable with critique, to take it all in, and decide what would benefit my writing.

Writing is all about experimenting, failing, editing, writing again, failing. Rinse and repeat. It’s as simple and complicated as that.


My friend Jaclyn Piudik and I have been writing poems together. It’s been a great experiment in failing. We needed to trust each other, and know the poem was written jointly, not separately. We wrote, we edited, and we failed much of the time. But each time, we’d go back and make the work better by taking out words or lines, and we’d rewrite and rewrite in our quest to find the right words in the right order. We had to fail a lot to get to success.


I’m sharing two poems we recently had published on Across the Margins. “Night Monster” is a reimagining of the Biblical story of Lilith and “Enditement” (we used an old spelling) is about the coming expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.


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