[063] Fail Up

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.
Fail again. Fail better.”
~ Samuel Beckett

U2. Madonna. Warhol. Tim Burton. Kurt Vonnegut. What do they have in common? Aside from that cultural icon thing? Each had the experience of ripping open an envelope containing a rejection letter. They felt the sting of the words, “You are not good enough.” And, maybe they weren’t good enough. Yet. But they didn’t give up. They failed. Probably more than once. And they failed up.


Warhol 1956

In some cases, of course, the failure belonged to the one wielding the REJECT stamp. In 1956, The Museum of Modern Art in New York politely refused the gift of a Warhol – by Warhol – due to “our severely limited gallery and storage space”. Really, MoMA? No room in the bin? (MoMA went on to find enough space to acquire 168 works by Andy Warhol.)


Warhol 1980

But what if failure is a necessary step along the path that leads to success? If the museum had accepted Andy Warhol’s gift of his untitled drawing of a shoe, he would have had an earlier success. It would’ve puffed out his chest a bit. He might have felt, “I have arrived!” But would his creative process have continued on in the same way, with the same inspiration, the same desire to succeed, to create? Maybe not.

Here’s a great post on Mental Floss with images of the actual letters of rejection that were addressed to some folks who went on to become well acquainted with popular and critical success. The rejections range from nasty to nice, from the beginning to the end of the 20th century. (Side note: What is so satisfying about the blotchy, uneven impressions made by old typewriters on bumpy paper? Perfection is overrated. But that’s another post.)

Gertrude Stein received what may be the most creative and amusing Non merci in the history of rejection. Click through just for that.

10 Rejection Letters Sent to Famous People | Mental Floss.

Maybe failure really isn’t an option.

Day 063 #100happydays

Bark, don't bite.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s