Australian writer of books for younger readers, young adults, verse novels and poetry.

Beautiful Failures.

Posted by

What can I say? I’m deep in revision. I’m in over my head and often I feel disorientated by the shifts and changes I’m making. Is it working? If I change that, what happens to the next bit?

I find it harder to trust aspects of revision. Or, I think I do. But perhaps I’ve just conveniently forgotten the pain of creation the way we’re supposed to forget the pain of childbirth.  Or I could be delusional.



I’m certainly nowhere close to forgetting the pain of this. Except, of course, when I first finish revising a chapter. In that initial flush of excitement – yes! I think it’s working! – I manage to forget that the changes I’ve made will now necessarily make the next day’s work more impossible challenging.

Both the heady rush when sentences effortlessly uncoil and all the rushes to the thesaurus are equally part of writing.

This year I’m giving myself permission to fail. This is not being negative. I loathe that word! When someone uses it (usually my husband) I want to climb on the roof and announce to the world that I. Am. Not. A. Negative. Person. But I do want to wipe away this burden of perfection that sometimes halts me in my tracks. Just keep going, I want to urge myself, just do it! See what happens – who cares if it doesn’t work?

At least you will have tried.

And, fortunately in the world of writing, no one dies from a beautiful failure. (Except, perhaps,  your favourite character.)

I would not, of course,  be applying the same rule to mountaineering or motorcross.

3 Responses

  1. WendyE says:

    I think writers share with any creative artist the problem of deciding when something is actually finished. Probably if we revisited each creative endeavor, as time passed we’d always want to change it to reflect our new experiences, learning and thereby perspective. So I think we have to accept that although it is never, in our own minds, ‘done’, it does have an ‘end point’ that we can accept.

  2. WendyE says:

    Gaah. In the last sentence strike the first “accept” and change it to “understand”. Where’s the “edit” button. And isn’t this ironic. ; )

    • Catherine says:

      Ha! Yes, that is beautifully ironic! I’m happy to say that the revision continues and I do think it is strengthening the final product.

Leave a Reply