Thursday, June 2, 2011


When you have a PhD in literature, you don't have to feel guilty about watching TV. That's what I tell myself. And I'm not talking about Masterpiece Theater or PBS Newshour. No, I'm a sucker for competition-based reality shows like Survivor, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance. Food Network stuff isn't bad either, although ever since a friend showed me the South Park food porn episode (watch at your own risk) I can't help but hear double entendres in every commentary.

This last season of Idol, sans Simon, led to kinder remarks from the judges. If you happen to be a superstar and you're asked to judge one of these shows, here's a go-to tactic for humanizing and endearing yourself to viewers and contestants alike: talk about your failures. Oh, if you only knew how many times I failed before.... etc. etc. Sounds trite if you're in a cynical mood, but it can be inspiring if you want some positive reinforcement. But rather than quote Jennifer Lopez, let's look at what a google search for failure quotes brings up (and then I'll get to my point). Trite and annoying or deep and inspiring? You be the judge:
  • "The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure." (Sven Goran Eriksson)
  • "Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement." (C.S. Lewis)
  • "Failure is the tuition you pay for success." (Walter Brunell)
  • "If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."(Woody Allen)
  • "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." (Samuel Beckett) 
 There are pages and pages of these.
So why the "epic fail" post? Did I just endure some kind of epic failure? 
No. That's the point. I haven't been doing enough things that lead to letters of rejection.

This is where the "epic fail" project comes into play. If my current photography dreams were to come true then I would 1. get my photography published in some form (my blog doesn't count)  2. get shown in a gallery somewhere and 3. hmmm. I'd be happy with 1 and 2 for now. Other than the ABC Paris project, I've never even attempted publication. And with that one, I think I sent the book to about 5 publishers, made it to the owner of one company, failed, decided to abandon the project as a book and start selling prints instead, got featured on some big design blogs, signed a four-year contract with a licensing agency (super slow process, btw) and that's it. 

During Christmas break, I got the idea I would work on publishing, so I wrote a story on JPG, which got"story of the week" for week 1 of the new year, but didn't make it into the physical magazine, which was my goal. So then my interest in JPG began to fade. I'm a horrible horrible example of perseverance. It's worse than saying "If at first you don't succeed, then stop and do something else." It's more like "If at first you don't get exactly what you want..."

The new plan to overcome that bad habit: EPIC FAIL. It's time to start putting some "finger posts" (huh? fingerposts?) on the "road to achievement." I'm aiming to get some failures, and I'm going to start documenting the attempts as I go. I won't deny that to fail at failing would be the best possible outcome, but maybe that kind of failure only comes after the story gets epic.