Monday, November 25, 2013

I Am Thankful for Failure

by Cindy Jones

In two days, seated around a table with my extended family, each of us will take a moment to say what we are thankful for, and I will say what I always say: my family, not because I have no imagination to vary my response from year to year, but because nothing else even comes close.  But, if I were seated at, say, a Thanksgiving Dinner for Writers Only, I might venture into new gratitude territory, like: my agent, my website, and my writing sweater.  Depending on how long I had the floor, I might eventually express thanks for things like the forward delete key, subtext, and yes, failure.  

While failure is probably never accorded appreciation around the Thanksgiving dinner tables of America, I often reflect that failure is the best thing that ever happened to me.  If I had not failed: my first turkey, my first novel, my first marriage, etc., my list of Thanksgiving blessings would be much shorter.  As the saying goes, “If you haven't failed, you’re not trying hard enough.”    

Almost by accident, I stumbled on what is probably common knowledge to most people.  Since I once believed that failure was the end of the road, I spent a lot of time in defeat mode over the years, reflecting long and hard on what got me there. As Thoreau said, "If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment."  Upon reflection, a new way out of my failure would almost always suggest itself.  To my surprise, I learned that failure, while it is an end, is also a beginning.  What's more, failing early saves even bigger problems down the road by creating an opportunity to correct things before it is too late.  As my son would tell me, "you *get* to fail."  

Although failure is insensitive, callous, and mean, takes no prisoners and recognizes no prior relationships, I've grown cautiously fond of failure the way one might be fond of a pet lion.  I've even gone so far as to appropriate its ruthless technique, slashing and burning bridges between my current novel's sixth and seventh drafts.  Because the overarching truth about failure, the certainty that redeems all suffering and repays all perseverance, even if I never exactly achieve success:  whatever I create after failing is always better than what failed. 

Ebook Giveway

In thanksgiving for Girlfriends Book Club and GBC books that address themes of Thanksgiving, family, and perseverance, I will give away one of the following books (in ebook format).  Leave a comment to be included in the drawing.  Winner will be chosen after midnight on Friday.  

Jess Riley
ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE: After her mother's death and a disastrous Thanksgiving, a woman decides to "divorce" her no-good siblings and posts a Craigslist Ad for a new family with whom to share Christmas dinner. It's about family: those we make, and those we make peace with.

Christa Allan

WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS: A woman admits herself to a treatment center after recognizing her addiction to alcohol, but even after a month there, she discovers the road to sobriety is still under construction.

Malena Lott

FAMILY CHARMS:  What if your mother left and you didn't hear from her for 20 years?  Marlo came home from school one day to find her mother gone. Twenty years later, she gets a letter from Elizabeth inviting her three daughters on a trip around the world to see where she’s been the last 20 years – and what kept her away. What follows is an emotional ride for a family torn apart by abandonment, infidelity, cancer and a fear of commitment. Marlo, Taryn and Amelia are three sisters as different as they come, but united in their feelings of betrayal. Is it ever too late to trust in love? Take a journey around the world to learn the meaning of family and forgiveness.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

PURSUING THE TIMES: All that popular Chick-Lit author Mercury Lauren wants is to have one of her books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review - just one - and she'll do almost anything to get it. In this contemporary romantic comedy, with a nod toward Pride and Prejudice she crosses swords and hearts with the Editor-in-Chief of the NYTBR in a madcap adventure that takes her from her home in Westport to a yoga retreat to a golf course in Florida. Will she get what she wants and will she finally be happy if she does? Only one thing's for certain: nothing will stop her from Pursuing the Times.

Cindy Jones is the author of My Jane Austen Summer, the story of a young woman who thinks she may have realized her dream of living in a novel when she is invited to participate in a Jane Austen Literary Festival.  Her problems follow her to England where she must change her ways or face the fate of so many of Jane Austen’s secondary characters, destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.


  1. I like your twist on the Thanksgiving writers' table. And if I were there, I might want to borrow that writing sweater! Sounds like a magic charm! Happy Thanksgiving, Cindy!

    1. Thank you, Laura! Happy Thanksgiving to you! Just don't forget to take the Writing Sweater off before you leave the house. It is pretty ratty.

  2. This is a wonderful post. I love how you are coming from a place of gratitude about the mistakes you made. You have made it all work for you.
    I wish we could have a Girlfriends holiday dinner.

    1. Thank you, Ariella! I wish we could have a Girlfriends Holiday dinner, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Cindy, I loved this--what an inspirational and positive take on things. :) As I get older, I'm learning to embrace failure as opportunity to grow. You should post a photo of the writing sweater! (I'm honored to be on your list, also!)

    1. Thanks, Jess. I wish I had figured it out twenty years ago! (Thanks for the tweet!)