Sarah Manguso

I wrote my college-application essay about playing in a piano competition, knowing I would lose to the kid who had played just before me. Even while I played, knowing I would lose, I wrote, still I played to give the judges something to remember. I pretended my spasms of self-regard transcended the judges’ informed decisions about the pianists who were merely the best. I got into college.

I wish I could ask the future whether I should give up or keep trying. Then again, what if trying, even in the face of certain failure, feels as good as accomplishing? What if it’s even better? And here we are again.

- “Short Days” in The Paris Review

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