All my life, I’ve been obsessed with failure. Not so much other people’s failures — my own failures. This obviously has a destructive quality that doesn’t really serve me (or those who have to deal with me), but there are other aspects that I think are useful to the writing life. It’s the attitude of feeling like you’ve never got it all figured out, that you’ve got so much more to learn. More than that, you’ve got to genuinely want to make a dent in this giant list of things that you don’t quite get. Otherwise, you’ll just drown in your unknowingness.

Anyway, in this little video, I talk about the beauty of this failure attitude. It’s my brand of optimistic pessimism, for your consideration.

Nothing brilliant or shocking here, but it’s a way to look at the world that I think has some benefits. I guess there’s a gimmick to my talk of failure. I call it “failure” partly because I find it funny to tell people about all my failings, but more importantly, it’s my codeword for the need to keep my ass in the chair writing, studying, learning.

What about you? How do you keep yourself writing, studying, learning?


About Yuvi Zalkow

Yuvi Zalkow writes and worries in Portland, Oregon. His stories have been published in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, Carve Magazine, and others. His first neurotic novel is now available. He is working on a second novel (about one Jew obsessed with napkins and another Jew in the Klan). He recently received an MFA from Antioch University, which makes him feel official.