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Kurt Andersen, host of Studio 360 on NPR, is a journalist and the author of the novels Hey Day, Turn of the Century, The Real Thing, and his latest non-fiction book[…]

For Kurt Andersen, mistakes are trivial and easily forgotten—unless the effort was uninspired to begin with.

Question: What’s the biggest mistake of your career?

Kurt Andersen: I've never made a mistake in my career. Geez. I really do tend -- I have made lots and lots of mistakes but I tend to erase them from my mind. You know, every day I make a mistake, as I try to write a piece of fiction or as I try to write a story. In a larger sense, I make mistakes thinking, "Oh, I've done this kind of thing; therefore, of course, I can do this roughly similar, adjacent thing." It's the mistakes of hubris, I suppose. But to my mind it's better to make those mistakes and say, "No, maybe I can't tap dance even though I can tell jokes." It's better to make those mistakes, in the attempt to live the Amateur Spirit if you will, than to stick in one’s little silo where one has proven oneself. I think the errors of hackdome are more dangerous than the errors of over reach, and I've over reached. I will grant that.

Recorded on: October 13, 2009