The Challenge of Failure: Something or Nothing

Watercolor on Post Card – Words: Ann Bailey

Our prompt for week thirty-six of our fifty week challenge was to create an etegami postcard with a pun. Etegami is the japanese art of drawing a picture and adding words on a 4×6 or 5×7 postcard. I had a hard time trying to figure out something to draw as I am not a very good figure artist, so I thought about my husband’s love of fly fishing. My idea was to draw a whale which did not turn out. So I wrote the pun to acknowledge my inability to do what I wanted to do.

No one likes to fail and yet failure is a natural part of growth and learning. The hardest part for me was sharing my failure with a group of talented artists who actually created amazing work. I knew I fell short, I knew I was disappointed and I knew that no amount of time or effort would allow me to produce much better. So I faced reality and got it done. I was surprised that everyone loved the simplicity and pun. To me what was a failure was a fun alternative to everyone else.

We all have problems at different levels in handling plan B or even plan D. The thing this week reminded me about was that to everyone else our plan D was their plan A; they did not know that what was delivered was not the intended idea all along. Unfortunately we judge ourselves by our expectations while others judge us by what we deliver. They do not know that we went through four attempts before we got it done, they only know that we got it done. Which means most of the time we are our own worst critics.

My takeaway with this week’s challenge was to be reminded that the final product is always better than doing nothing, even if it does not meet our expectations. The serendipities of life are often better than what we could plan, so allowing failure and disappointment to help us shape our attitude makes all the difference. Even when we “flounder” on things delivering something is better than delivering nothing.


  1. I enjoy your work Ann, and absolutely agree with your stance. Watercolor is my favorite medium. (BTW, I am Laura’s sister. )


  2. I enjoy your work Ann, and absolutely agree with your stance. Watercolor is my favorite medium. (BTW, I am Laura’s sister. )


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