S132. How to Fail: On Abandoning a Manuscript, and Not

Room 23, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Saturday, March 10, 2018
9:00 am to 10:15 am


When should you quit on a writing project, and how do you know? And if you do move on, how should you do so in order to be successful going forward? And what about a massive overhaul instead? Successful writers rarely speak about their failures; the books, stories, and essays that never were. On this panel, five accomplished writers in both fiction and nonfiction try to pull back the curtain on what it means and doesn’t mean to quit on a project, as well as how to persevere when you need to.



Arna Bontemps Hemenway is the author of the short story collection, Elegy on Kinderklavier, winner of the 2015 PEN/Hemingway Award. His fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2015, as well as other venues. He directs the undergraduate creative writing program at Baylor University.

Rachel Yoder hosts The Fail Safe, a podcast about creative failure, and also edits draft: The Journal of Process which features first and final drafts of stories, essays, and poetry, along with author interviews.

Kerry Howley is the author of Thrown, a 2014 New York Times Notable Book, and an assistant professor in the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her essays, short stories, and reportage have appeared in Granta, The Paris Review, Harper's, and New York magazine.

Rebecca Makkai is the author of the story collection Music for Wartime and two novels, The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower. Her work was chosen for The Best American Short Stories in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, and won a 2016 Pushcart Prize. She is artistic director of StoryStudio Chicago.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center