"You've Cott Mail" today is all about "the need to fail." I'm with Adam Thurman on this one: "I've had to learn (the hard way) that the only failures that move us forward are the ones where you prepare and execute to the best of your ability . . . and then things just don't work out." As a college professor, I occasionally am asked by a student, "What do I need to do to get a B in this class?" My answer is always the same: "Try to get an A an don't make it." I don't have much patience with anyone who shoots for mediocrity.
If what is meant is that it is necessary for artists (or anyone else, for crying out loud -- could we get over artistic exceptionalism, please?) to take risks in order to succeed, well, duh. It's not success to keep doing the same safe thing over and over. But failure is something that happens, not something that needs to happen. Sometimes basketball players miss their shots, but they don't need to miss their shots. And the best players, when they miss a shot, keep shooting. What is it Wayne Gretsky said? You miss 100% of the shots you don't take? Exactly. And if you need permission to fail, well, there's not much to say about that -- you have my sympathies. Put on your Big Boy Undies, take a deep breath, prepare, work hard, and roll the big dice.