Archives for posts with tag: perseverance

Check out @CartBlanch’s Tweet:

This tweeted pic contains some shocking rejection numbers of books by famous authors. As painful as it had to have been to keep going in the face of such disheartening discouragement, it’s incredibly encouraging to see it spelled out so starkly that perseverance really does mean something. These are authors we know through their books and love for the life they gave to unforgettable characters and stories. I’m keeping this where I can easily see it, so the inevitable days of rejection and the stress it can bring won’t sting so badly or so long as they would without the reminder of the amazing company all serious writers keep in the struggle to be seen and heard and thrilled to and cherished.

@CartBlanch’s Tweet

I feel a little guilty for enjoying this Distractify article so much, but that’s what it’s there for. Sometimes artistic types can’t see past their personal wall of rejection to the potential every future holds. From Madonna to Stieg Larsson to Gertrude Stein and more, familiar names have been slammed into the ground, figuratively speaking, and gotten up to rise to greatness. My favorite one is iconic artist Andy Warhol. The Museum of Modern Art rejected a work he tried to give them. For free. Of course many famous soup cans later he became one of the most famous artists ever, recognizable by a glance at even one of his works. If brutal rejection can be a mere stumbling block on the path to that level of success, creative people with a combination of talent, ambition, and dreams need to work hard on becoming rejection proof. Apparently, the future really can be unlimited.

I’m watching a program on PBS about the history of Wernher von Braun’s attempts to design, create, and implement his impressive rockets. I’ll often leave documentaries like this on even in the background, while I do other things. I never know what might give me a story idea. I also know that details I don’t even think I’m paying attention to can take root in the niche of my brain that collects such scientific tidbits. They wait there to pop into the plotting niche just when I need them. Even when I don’t know I need them. Until, suddenly, there they are, fitting into an empty spot on the fly.

This time I learned that he used a double skin, as he learned by trial and error what would keep his prototypes from crashing and burning. Spectacularly. He needed a better way to keep his highly volatile fuel from going KABOOM! Again, spectacularly. When he didn’t want it to.  So he developed a system of using cold fuel running through the space between skins. The contained inferno of the fuels mixing, and kabooming when he did want them to, heated the fuel as it traveled to join the kaboom party. That helped eliminate the pesky problem of premature kaboom. Smart man, that von Braun. (Autocorrect keeps insisting he should be spelled von Brain. For once, I agree with it.)

Even if such an instance of rocket sciencery never makes it into my writing, I think it’s good for me to know about such things. I like learning about it and I do write myself into hard sf territory on occasion. The more I learn and understand, the more likely it is that what I write is reasonable extrapolation.

There’s another aspect of writing that this program kept making me think of as it progressed along with von Braun’s efforts. A different part of the writing
life. Rejection.

That man did not give up. He had to watch prototype after prototype get off to a promising start, then wobble, turn, and dive bomb itself into those impressive kabooms that must have torn at his ego, his intellect…and perhaps his secret heart…every single time. There were a lot of those fails. In fact, I was surprised that so much of the early part of the program covered crash after crash. I’d known of him vaguely as the brilliant mind behind Hitler’s ahead of their time rockets, then our own marvelous space program. I had no idea that he had faced such crushing, daunting failures, yet persevered to become known for his awe-inspiring successes.

Once I realized how many of his early creations were spectacular failures, before his equally spectacular successes must have wiped the sting from his memory, my thoughts turned to how hard rejection is for writers to deal with. Often regular and sometimes brutal, rejection is one of those things writers simply have to endure, with attitudes ranging from casual shrugs to stoicism to  somewhat controlled outrage. It’s tough. It is never fun.

However, as I watched the seemingly endless parade of failed prototypes falling to their flame throwing ends unfold in grainy black and white inevitability, a couple of very comforting thoughts kept making me almost smile.

The first was that even under the crushing weight of constant, extremely visible, undeniable failure von Braun did not give up. He ended up going down instead in history, known as one of the greatest scientific minds of the Twentieth Century, whose legacy as the father of the rocket age overshadowed his history with Hitler. That’s one heck of an ending for a man who could have so easily grown discouraged and disheartened and given up.

The other was that no matter how many rejections a writer gets, no matter how much they discourage and threaten to crush, at least writers will never, ever have their own creations, whether prototypes or masterpieces, literally, physically crash, explode, and incinerate themselves.

So I’ve taken note of von Braun’s incredible mastery of the art of perseverance and perhaps learned from it. And I feel my own incredible relief in knowing that no matter how bad rejection may be, it is at heart merely opinion. Opinions can’t crash and burst into flame. Those kabooms are silent, and mercifully more private than Wernher von Braun’s many failures that led to the ultimate success that we witnessed every time we got up early to watch one of our glorious space shuttles blast off into what was once the great unknown far above our heads.

That is the kind of failure I, for one, aspire to!

Anyone (and that’s just about everyone in this case) who has ever had something they created criticized, or heaven forbid ridiculed, needs to read Jon Cassar’s Tumblr post about Blade Runner. Blade Runner Notes shows an alarming amount of criticism, suggestions, and demands renowned director Ridley Scott endured.

Blade Runner, based on the Phillip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, is considered by many to be the greatest science fiction movie of all time. I wouldn’t go that far personally, but that kind of thing is extremely subjective. I do like the movie and its director a lot, and have trouble wrapping my mind around these notes.

Obviously they didn’t crush Scott into giving up. If he could deal with braving that momentum crushing gauntlet and still manage to turn out such a revered movie, I think there’s hope for the rest of us.

Creativity inevitably attracts criticism and some manner of adversity at some point. I for one intend to start screaming “Blade Runner Notes!” at the top of my mental lungs, whenever I feel beleaguered by anything outside my own creative instincts.

No matter how well I try to prepare myself for getting screenwriting competition announcement emails, I always approach those long lists of names with a bizarre combination of anticipation and dread. Will I be there? What if I’m not? Myriad questions race through my mind, even as I comb the list in search of my name. Sometimes I’d swear I’m actually holding my breath and breathing rapidly…at the same time.

One of the screenplays I entered fell early into alphabetical listing, so I went there first. It wasn’t there. I’m extremely disappointed, but I also know it’s a wonderful story (hey, belief in the work you love is a vital part of persevering in such a competitive field)

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With the excessive heat I’m in the dog days of summer with everyone else, but I also get the bonus round– screenwriting competition results season. It starts in July for me this year, with the Page Awards. They roll out advancement announcements starting with the entriries moving to the Second Round, then a step per month until the winners are announced at the end of a nailbiting summer.

It can always go any way, for any writer. My first Page year was 2010. The drama I entered advanced to the Second Round and that was as far as it got. Last year I entered two. That same drama advanced to the Second Round again. It stopped there again. It’s done much, much better in other competitions, but that’s the way it can go. And often does.

The second entry? That one went all the way to Semi-final. It had only previously made it to the top 15% of the Nicholls. The one that stopped at Page Second Round twice? It had previously made the top 10% of the Nicholls and did well in other competitions.

This time I’ve entered two screenplays in the Page Awards. I also have an entry in the Moondance International Screenwriting Competition this year. They’ve been announcing all levels at once around the end of summer. A long wait that can be worth it. Two of my screenplays have been Moondance Finalists.

Yes, I have several completed feature length specs. It’s a good idea to in general, and I also really enjoy writing them.

Sure, even being a finalist in a prestigious competition isn’t as good as winning and all the almosts in the world don’t get you a fistful of dollars, but every triumph, every small step forward provides enough encouragement to help keep me going. For another day, another year, another competition that just might be the one. I’ll never know if I don’t take those chances, roll those dice, gamble that one more entry fee may take home the prize.

Is it always easy? Of course not. Will believing in yourself that much always make you happy? No. Some days it will make you cry. But should you give up if the answer seems too often “almost”. Absolutely not. I’ve read that a lot of people who win had several Semis and Finalists under their belt first. Does that make me believe I will win to the point of delusion? ‘Fraid not. It does convince me it’s darned well possible. And “possible” is the stuff hopes and dreams and, for the truly lucky ones, success are built on.