Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Quote File: Failure

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.“ — Winston Churchill

“If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford

“There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.” — Buckminster Fuller

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” — Henry Ford

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” — Thomas Edison  

“Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.” — Coco Chanel

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” —Herman Melville  

“There are some books which refuse to be written. They stand their ground year after year and will not be persuaded. It isn't because the book is not there and worth being written -- it is only because the right form of the story does not present itself. There is only one right form for a story and if you fail to find that form the story will not tell itself.” — Mark Twain

 “Have compassion for yourself when you write. There's no failure -- just a big field to wander in.” — Natalie Goldberg  

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” — Pearl S. Buck

“I may be dense, but I fail to see why a chap needs thirty pages to describe how he tosses and turns in bed before falling asleep.” — an English publisher on In Search of Lost Time

“The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand.” – George Augustus Moore  

“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.“ – T. S. Eliot

“The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strengthens our most fatal tendency -- the belief that the here and now is all there is.” – Allan Bloom

“It was our own moral failure and not any accident of chance, that while preserving the appearance of the Republic we lost its reality.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

 “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” — Elie Wiesel  

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” — James Baldwin  

“Anybody who tries to convince me that foreign policy is more important than child rearing is doomed to failure.“ – Anna Quindlen

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.” — Anais Nin

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” — Tony Kushner  

“Do not commit the error, common among the young, of assuming that if you cannot save the whole of mankind, you have failed.” — Jan de Hartog

“Excuses: the first refuge of the failure.” — Yahia Lababidi

“The weakest living creature, by concentrating his powers on a single object, can accomplish something. The strongest, by dispensing his over many, may fail to accomplish anything. The drop, by continually falling, bores its passage through the hardest rock. The hasty torrent rushes over it with hideous uproar, and leaves no trace behind. — Thomas Carlyle  

 “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” — Teddy Roosevelt  

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


  1. Great list. I always loved the Beckett one. I'm going to put a lot of these up in my classroom.

  2. I've always liked Melville's quote. Originality over imitation is what I strive at. Thank you for the list. I'm pumped and ready to write! :)

  3. I'm a quote collector, so read everyone you posted :) I agree with them all, I'd say, but the one by Pearl S. Buck is the one that resonated a bit more than the rest. Creation---what it is to be human since we ourselves are created in God's image (my belief).

  4. Thanks for the list. I use quotations a whiteboard headings for the start of a class and many of these will be inspirational for my writing students.

  5. These are wonderful. I especially like the Pearl Buck quote. I will be using many of these to remind and inspire. Thanks.