Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Freedom to Fall

By Amy MacKinnon

Any Alicia Keys fans in the house? She's my girl. A musical savant, but even more, a philosopher.
Sarah Rodman, one of my favorite music critics, had an awe-inspiring, hit-me-upside-the-head, everyone-needs-to-read-this kind of interview with Alicia Keys in this past Friday's Boston Globe.

"Everything's not always going to be perfect or exactly the way you wished it was going to be, and the way that you handle that is what shows the growth you're going to have," says an upbeat Keys from New Orleans.

Now sit back a minute and read that paragraph a second time. Going to have. Now that's forward thinking. This coming from a 27-year-old woman. Ready for more?

"...the one thing I really want above all is to feel proud of the choices I made. And I also want to feel if I made any bad choices that I was able to learn from them."

Alicia Keys is telling you, me, the world, and most important of all, herself, that it's okay to fail. She is saying choose wisely, but if you don't, that's okay, learn from it and keep moving forward.

We know this already, don't we? We know that our failures teach us more than our successes. We know as writers, we will be faced with rejections, criticisms, acid-tongued Amazon reviewers. But we forget, too. In the moment, when faced with it, we can feel only the sting of the fall and forget it's a journey of a thousand steps this life we chose. We'll all fall, some of us spectacularly, others in silent torment. Just remember when you do fail -- and you will -- you tripped in the footsteps of those who went before you -- and they kept going. Will you?

Just watch her go.


Anonymous said...

Wise words. That is a great article about Alicia Keys and you have done a great job relating it to the rest of us, or at least to me!

I'm starting edits on book two this week and the fear of failure is, of course, huge. These words are very encouraging.

Amy MacKinnon said...

Tina, I'm pleased you could relate, too. I'm working on Book II as well, but now I don't feel nearly as intimidated. For a long while, I was. For me, failure is in never trying and staying with the tried and true. But journeying beyond my comfort zone will hopefully work out. We shall see.

Larramie said...

As a child my parents said, "When you fall, just get back up and try again." So I've always known that false starts happen and those who don't try will never get anywhere...not even on the ground again.

Anonymous said...

Your post came at a good time. My requested partial by a respected agent was just declined. At first, it's true, I only felt the sting. But time allows me to listen to her comments, consider if she was the right match, relook at how my query communicates. What a learning process, for my heart as well!

Amy MacKinnon said...

Larramie, you have very wise parents. Onward and upward.

Aw, I'm sorry, Joanne. As much as it hurts in the moment, when you can reflect with clarity, you'll realize that wasn't the agent for your book. You want passion behind your project once it goes on submission to editors, someone who will fight for it and, most of all, believe in it. Onward and upward to you too.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

It's never a bad time to hear this kind of advice/wisdom.

I love that last image . . . that I'm tripping where others fell before me. We're all in this together, aren't we, just at different stops in the road.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this very inspiring post and link. I especially enjoyed the musical YouTube interlude which just closed off my night. "No one" could believe me when I put that Alicia Keys album on my Christmas list last year. I've never been into that kind of music before but that song just got me (as does all of her music now). I blare that album whenever I need a pick me up. It has even more meaning to me now.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Judy, And to think someone right now is tripping in your long ago steps.

Tara, isn't she brilliant? And if you want to expand in this genre, the Reverend Al Green has a new CD out. He's my favorite.

Anonymous said...


Love this post! Thank you and Alicia for reminding me that I don't have to be perfect. Reminds me of my favorite quote from Samuel Beckett (and, in the writing industry I refer to it frequently):

Try again.
Fail better.

Tiffany :0)

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Tiffany, and I love the quote you've shared. I'd forgotten all about it. Thanks so much.

Carleen Brice said...

Big talent. Big heart. Old soul.

FYI, my news is out...and I'll be even further behind reading Tethered due to a recent illness and hospitalization.