Failure IS an option – by Kathrese McKee

Kathrese McKee is no stranger to the Scriblerians. Not only is she a great writer friend of mine, but we got to hang out with her at Realm Makers last year (the best conference for science fiction/ fantasy writers of faith). She also signed our slam book last year. Feel free to stop by that post to see the original cover of Mardan’s Mark and her high school picture. Two things she probably wishes weren’t still on the internet. 😉 

Now, please enjoy this wonderful post by a gifted writer.


During the Apollo 13 movie, Gene Kranz, the flight director played by Ed Harris, has this line: “Failure is not an option.” Then, he stalks out of the room, and his engineers scramble to find solutions. Man, I love that movie. And I loved that line.

In real life, Gene Kranz didn’t actually say that. He wishes he did, but he didn’t. In fact, he liked the quote so much, that he used it as the title for his memoir. I can appreciate the must-do philosophy in the context of the Apollo 13 emergency, but I disagree with it in the context of creative endeavors.

Failure is an option. I would argue that it’s the only option. How many authors write their tour de force on the first draft of their debut novel? How many painters create their masterpiece the first time they hold a paintbrush? How many screenwriters, sculptors, inventors, filmmakers, or dancers achieve the pinnacle of success before they have failed many times?

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas EdisonThomas Edison

Creative professionals must fine-tune their work, throwing out the pieces that don’t measure up and trying new ideas. That’s what happened to me on my debut novel, Mardan’s Mark. Actually, I think the writing is okay, but the cover is another story. If you want to learn more about the book or the original cover, you can see a post from a year ago on this website, “Swashbuckling Adventure, Anyone?”

There is no failure. Only feedback. ~Robert Allen

In the meantime, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder my cover choice. Tim Akers, one of the Scriblerians asked, “So tell me, if this was written for boys, why is there a woman’s face on the cover?” Ah, Tim, why’d you have to bring that up? Yeah, I wrote it for both genders.
Floryie, another reviewer, wrote this: “I loved the look of the book cover. But I couldn’t relate to the ‘character’ on the cover. She looks too old to represent any of the female characters.” Srilani does look too old, and Aldan really does need to be on the cover. Okay, okay, you talked me into it.

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. ~Henry Ford

So the hunt for a different cover designer began, not because the first designer was bad, but because the cover needed a fresh set of eyes. I hope that you agree it was worth the effort.

2016-264 HANDOVER Ebook Kathrese McKee, Mardan's Mark

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Enough about me, let’s talk about you. Are you in a slump? Do you have doubts? Those feelings are natural. Everyone experiences them. But our job as creative individuals is to push through those doldrums and accept failure as part of the process. The only ones who fail are those who quit trying. Put fear aside. Change something and try again.

C.S. LewisFailures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. ~C. S. Lewis

When you look back at where you’ve been, the mileposts are likely to be those points where something went wrong and you had to make a decision to keep going in spite of adversity. Think of moments when you learned a life lesson through failure. Think of those events that changed you, broke you, and molded you. Ultimately, those failures made you who you are. Fail forward toward success.

What past failure set you up for success afterward?

Kathrese headshotTexas author, Kathrese McKee, writes epic adventures for anyone who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life’s difficult questions. In Mardan’s Mark: A princess must rescue the heir from behind enemy lines before war breaks out. The stakes rise when she accepts help from a pirate’s slave. Join the Crew to read the first five chapters for free.

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13 thoughts on “Failure IS an option – by Kathrese McKee

  1. Inspiring, Kathrese! Glad you could be with our group today!

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  2. I agree with you that failure is an option. Two of my published short stories were rejected before they found a home. In both cases, their final destination was the best fit.
    For too long I believed that I had to be perfect. Now I know I’m free to make mistakes and learn from them.

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  3. Such great insight, Kathrese! And very timely for my writing journey at this moment. It IS a process and I’ll admit I’m not always as patient as I should be on this journey. And I LOVE the new cover.

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  4. I like the quote you included. The idea that failure is a type of feedback that helps us in the long run is so true. How many of us fell before we learned to walk? It’s true in everything, so why not in writing?

    Thanks for posting with us! I hope you’ll do it again. 🙂

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  5. Great post and good encouragement. I’ve always believed that I’ve learned more from the valleys in my life than when I’ve been on the mountain tops. (mountain tops feel better though…)

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  6. “You are never a failure until you fail to try” – I’ve always loved that little slogan.
    And can I just say “Oooh!!!” at the new cover?

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  7. Pingback: Dear Fourteen-Year-Old Me: A letter from the future | The Scriblerians

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