How A Failed Playwright Became a Novelist

There would never have been a Dark Horse Trilogy if I hadn’t been such an utter failure as a playwright. Olivia and her spirit guide Elsa represent the evolution of an idea about a successful female political consultant, who through a series of unforeseen events finds herself marginally employed and halfway to being a full-time alcoholic. One day after going on one hell of a bender, she wakes up to find an ancient female warrior standing in front of her dispensing advice.

What made the story compelling for a play is that only Olivia was supposed to be able to see Elsa. I was intrigued by the visual and dialogue potential of a so-called modern woman being given advice by a witch from the fourth century rocking a dagger on her hip. Luckily for me, the medium held no allure and after several attempts I abandoned the idea of a script and converted my story into a novel.  From the moment I began, the two women came to me clear as day. Eventually, so did The Council and a vision for three books, instead of one. 

What I love about telling this story is how my trilogy was born out of failure. I managed to take an incomplete creative process and convert it into something productive – which is something I want to recommend you try to do as well. Don’t let failure be the last word for your creative endeavors. Take time to view what you’re doing from multiple perspectives and commit to taking a different approach. Out of the ashes of one of your lost projects could be one of your greatest works.

There is a tendency to only pursue creative endeavors if we can be certain that we’ll be good at them. I think that’s the wrong way to view the exercise. We yearn to be creative because artistic endeavors feed the human soul. We can learn about ourselves in failure – sometimes more than when we are successful.  Last week a friend sent me a quote from someone who turned out to be pretty famous, this is his experience:

So there you have it: Kurt Vonnegut and I are both encouraging you to try new things, even if you’re not good at them and look more kindly on your failures, which could lead you to amazing creative breakthroughs. Olivia and Elsa would never have seen the light of day if I’d stopped writing because I couldn’t produce a play. What have you set aside that might be worth looking at through this new perspective?