Episode 58: Luke Reynolds, MG Writer & (God Bless Him) Former Middle School Teacher

This morning we interview Luke Reynolds, author of The Looney Experiment (Blink),  Surviving Middle School: Navigating the Halls, Riding the Social Roller Coaster, and Unmasking the Real You, and most recently Fantastic Failures: True Stories of People Who Changed the World by Falling Down First, which comes out Sept 11!

We talk about how Luke was inspired to write Fantastic Failures through personal experience via his career in teaching middle grades and junior high students. So many young people struggle with overcoming failure and rejection, and Luke wanted to write a book for kids that shows how the most successful people in history have a long (LONG!) history of personal and professional failures.

Luke himself always wanted to be a writer, but his B+'s on writing assignments in school never made him feel that he could be successful - he only learned later that persistence was the key, and having an honest perspective on what it takes to complete a book - drafts upon drafts upon drafts! Luke also credits his oldest brother for noticing he was on the wrong path and making him run with him every day, forming a connection and keeping him out of trouble. We need people to care about us, be authentic with us, and lead us - and then hard work and grit come into play. Various biographies in Fantastic Failures had people who wouldn't have made it without help along the way - friends, families, mentors - that encouraged them to keep going. 

One of the takeaways from this book is to change the idea of failure - don't see it so much as failure, but as one of the steps in succeeding. How do we change this perfection for ourselves and our kids?

"I think it's become somewhat popular to talk about failure and making mistakes in general, but the next level is really hard to get to - to actually start talking about our OWN failures and rejections...to start talking really openly about how I failed as a dad, as a teacher, a writer, a friend, a brother...to start normalizing it. We all experience deep rejection and failure, and we'll talk about the "safe" failures - things that happened 30 years ago, but not yesterday." - Luke Reynolds

One of the main reasons Mel and Abby started this podcast was to start recognizing and normalizing the iterative process of writing, and how bad writing and bad first drafts are a normal thing. It can be a beautiful process, but only if we see failure as one of the steps to success. And is there any real joy without a struggle, anyway? If something comes easy to you, you don't feel as great about it as opposed to the things you really had to work for. 

"The people who sustain their love of something are people that fail often, early on - and you can't get the love of it out of them. People who succeed very quickly tend to quit quickly as well." - Luke Reynolds

Luke's Books