Learning to Fall/Fail

I don’t usually post on Saturdays, but I promised I would post this week. So here we go. . . .

I learned to ride a bike when I was eight. I wasn’t one of those kids who had a bike with training wheels. My first bike was sky blue and had a banana seat and a white basket. Kinda like this one. (This is not my bike, however.)

b70d29fbe4484707d0e01a72e3d5fc48

My dad held on to the back of it and coached me to balance and pedal. Ha. Easier said than done. Those of you who learned to ride via this method will know that I immediately crashed into something, especially when I realized that my father no longer held on to the seat nor was he providing the balance my brain told me I lacked. Oh yes. I became well acquainted with trees, the grass, the concrete sidewalk—you name it. I fell countless times before something clicked and I was able to ride without fear.

Learning to use a pair of inline skates was a lot easier. For one thing, I took a class from a traveling group of people who taught in a parking lot. The best thing I learned during that class was how to fall. Knowing that falling was part of the process made learning easier. I still fell many, many times. Yet the attitude of my teachers toward falling was the thing that kept me going. They were so cheerful and matter-of-fact about it. “Keep your knees bent,” they said. This advice made falling easier.

Inline Skate

It’s interesting that in our society, we see the success stories. The stories of failure are usually less intentional and more along the lines of, “So and so was caught doing something wrong and here is that story.” We’re taught that failure is something you shove at the back of your closet and shut the door to prevent anyone who comes to your home from seeing it.

That’s why I love stories of authors who talk about the many rejections they have had, and how those rejections were part of the process that took them from point A to point B. They knew how to fall and get back up again.

I also appreciate advice I was given from advisors: to experiment and freewrite. This was their way of teaching me how to fall gracefully. Because once I realized what didn’t work, I could try again until I found what did.

Mary Winn Heider can certainly relate to try, try again. Click here to read the interview with her concerning her latest MG novel, The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy. The winner of that wonderful novel is Laura Bruno Lilly. Laura, please comment below to confirm.

Losers1Jacket Pic MWH

Bike photo from somewhere online. Skate photo by L. Marie.