We Should All Fail More

| March 23, 2015 | 0 Comments


What’s your favorite sports league? NFL? NBA? MLB? Maybe you’re like Joe Mulvey and millions of Canadians and hockey is your sport of choice. Or perhaps college hoops is your thing and March Madness is your idea of Christmas.

While all those leagues have their charms, the one I’m most attached to and root the hardest for is the North Shore Massachusetts Girls Basketball League…the one my step-daughter Julia plays for. It’s impossible not to be invested in that league. I’ve been watching Jules play basketball since she was in 5th grade, and witnessed her develop as a player. She’s always been a hard worker and a solid player, but more defensive minded than offensive. Her mother and I are always encouraging her to be more aggressive and take more shots (to much teenage eyerolling.)


The opening round of her  8th Grade playoffs was the other night, and like all leagues, the level of competition definitely rises come tournament time. In a tight game, Jules took a pass from a guard on the baseline. She was covered, so I assumed she was going to immediately pass it back to the guard, as I’d seen her do hundreds of times before. Much to my surprise and delight, she faked a pass, and then drove hard toward the basket, went under the hoop and put up a wrap around hook shot. The fact that she missed the shot by a wide margin didn’t matter to me at all. It was a strong, aggressive basketball move.

She took the shot.

So, what does this little anecdote have to do with making comics or small press publishing, or all the other things ComixTribe.com is known for?


I think most of us need to take more shots. I think most of us need to be more aggressive. I think most of us need to miss wildly and fall on our faces and fail, fail, and fail again, a whole lot more than we do.

We cheer on our kids and push them and encourage them to try harder and take chances, when most of us haven’t pushed ourselves out of our own personal comfort zones in years.

We should take our own advice more often.

Now,  when I say “fail more” it’s not the failing that’s important. Rather, it’s the striving to do something outside our  comfort zone. It’s taking focused action on something where a successful  outcome isn’t guaranteed, or even probable.

So, what does that look like for comic creators? What does it look like for you? I couldn’t tell you. But here are few  ideas…

  • Introduce yourself to all of your favorite editors in comics and ask if you can share published (or self-published) work with them.
  • Write the personal story you’re scared of writing. Let yourself bleed on the page.
  • Write the convention organizers of the shows you want to attend this year and make a compelling case for why they should have you as a guest.
  • Tackle your creative weakness head on, and commit yourself to improving them…
  • Or decide to let go of your creative weaknesses, outsource  them to people who do them better, and focus on improving your strengths and competitive advantages instead.
  • Approach that creator whose work you admire at a con or on social media and try to establish a relationship.
  • Let go of your artistic crutches…or throw yourself into learning a new skill (inking with a quill, digital art, etc.)
  • Ask someone for help when you need it.

Obviously, this is far from an exhaustive list (and I’m sure you can help me add to this list in the comments below.)

But the bigger point is that almost every breakthrough moment in our lives, the moments that years later we look back on and are most proud of, were moments where there was a strong risk of failure.

Asking out our crush.

Applying for the dream gig.

Leaning in for that first kiss.

Quitting the thing we were good at, but made us miserable.

Standing up to a bully.

Owning up to our mistakes.

Art by Doug Hills.

Art by Doug Hills.

These are the moments that define us as people, and help us grow.  Theodore Roosevelt (who, in unrelated news, will be meeting a terrible end at the hands of the Oxymoron in the upcoming Killing Time anthology) once said:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

And who are we to argue with Teddy?

So, take the shot.  


Oh, and and as a little postscript, in round two of the playoffs, Jules found herself again with the ball  on the baseline, this time with one of the opponent’s stars, a six footer,  defending  her. Again, she faked the pass back to the guard, again she drove baseline, slashing under the basket, and again she put up a contested shot.

And this time, it was nothing but net.

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Category: Comix Counsel

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at tyler.james@comixtribe.com.

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