Failing Upwards

May 13th, 2019

Failing Upwards

I heard a Thunder Levin interview the other day.  He was talking about his long career as a screenwriter.

"The years went by and success always seemed within reach, but never quite", he said. I didn't sense bitterness.

He just kept working.  He was approached to write the screenplay to "Sharknado". He didn't accept on first offer, but they didn't give up.  The movie was an instant cult classic.  I remember watching it with glee, it was so amazingly ridiculous and there was a lot of heart you couldn't mistake.

He went on to write 3 more sequels and the franchise spawned 6 movies in total.  

I enjoyed the interview so much, I tracked the podcast down and listened again.

He was challenged by the interviewer at being remembered for such a low-brow movie.  He didn't apologize.  "I spent 20 years failing upwards".  He seemed humble, genuine and grateful for his career. He acknowledged the success and joy that Sharknado brought to his life, and he has not let it define him.

I loved the sentiment. I may not ever reach a similar level of success, and I can apply his strategy regardless.

I've said before that I feel we don't allow people, artist or not, the time and space to improve or change.

For me, the way I learn is doing something I can't until I can.  In plainer language, I do some things badly for a long time until I can do them less badly and then finally, I can do them, sometimes with competence and sometimes with skill.

I get better everytime I write, play, record and perform.

Sometimes I'm doing my learning in the public eye, with varying degrees of success.  If I waited until I was ready, there would be no songs, no concerts and no recordings, and no steps on the way to improvement.

I'm going to embrace failing upwards.  I'm going to accept some mediocrity for a moment of genius.





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