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A catalogue of failures

A catalogue of failures

It’s a fun fact that the acronym for the ‘Fuckup Nights’ is FUN. But what are the Fuckup Nights, you ask? An event series where entrepreneurs share their stories of professional failure. A global movement akin to the ‘CV of Failures’ published by one Princeton professor: a list of jobs he didn’t get, papers turned down by journals. The idea is that failure is an inevitable part of the road to success.

Last week my friend, the author Gaston Dorren, whose book Lingo I translated into English, shared his own personal failure at a Fuckup Night in Amersfoort - a series of bad choices that delayed the publication of his second book, Babel. In solidarity, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon. Yesterday I had to compose a short bio for a forthcoming publication. Let me dissect it for you.

Alison Edwards received her PhD from the University of Cambridge. Actually, my supervisor accepted me because my research was about English in the Netherlands, she happened to be Dutch, and she thought it might be fun. Had I done my PhD elsewhere, among colleagues doing similar research, I wouldn’t have been so utterly intellectually isolated. But hey, now I get to drop the C-bomb all the time – Cambridge, yeah!

She is the author of the book ‘English in the Netherlands: Functions, forms and attitudes’. Ooh, a book. It’s actually just my dissertation though. Make a few changes, send it off to a publisher, and boom, you’re an author!

She is currently based in Amsterdam … for a well-paid, high-powered job? Nah. I just followed my husband here.

and is a research affiliate at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. Yes, I ‘work’ at Leiden – in inverted commas, since they don’t actually pay me.

Granted, these are not so much failures as they are not-quite-the-successes-they-may-seem. But let me end with a meta-fail: this is an extremely half-arsed and very far from exhaustive list of failures. Really, I could have done a much better job.

Alison Edwards



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