I've been thinking about failure lately. For one, I recently listened to this Writing Excuses podcast on fail in your writing career, and what to do about it. For another, I failed to reach 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo this year. I'm slightly disappointed in this failure, but since I managed to finish a novella during this time, I'm quite pleased overall. And besides, I also have a few short story ideas outlined, so I actually accomplished quite a bit during November.
Sometimes failure is a blip on the screen, like this year's NaNoWriMo. Other times, however, it's huge, or at least it feels that way. The first time I applied to physical therapy school, I was turned down. I was devastated. I think I cried. I certainly moped for days and had all sorts of negative thoughts swirling through my head. But then I pulled myself together and thought about what I could do the following year to improve my odds, and I set out to do those things. And the next year, not only did I get into a school, but I got into the school I wanted (whereas the year before, I'd applied to the only one I had the prerequisites for). So ultimately, things turned out very well.
When I decided to take up writing and start submitting my work, I took on a whole new set of fears and risks. Could I finish a story? What about novels? Would anybody like my stories? Buy them? I made a lot of mistake early in my writing career, both in the craft of writing and in submitting stories for publication. I cringe to think of them, but they were honest mistakes, and I learned from them. And really, none of them were so awful that anybody will remember (I think....).
Failure leads to learning. And sometimes we fail, but then a better option comes along. For more words of wisdom on how failure can lead to success, you can read this article.