I just received an email moments ago telling me that a funder is taking a pass on a script I wrote. It was kind of like being punched in the gut in slow motion, and you read and re-read what they have sent you, just to make sure you didn’t misread the thank you but no thanks part. But it’s great! I know it is! At least it’s had my writers group laughing in the aisles…..that means something doesn’t it? And yes it really truly does.
For the second time in my career something I have created has been turned down and the sad part is there is never any explanation given other than the fact they receive tons of applications and yours was just one of many… and you know….. these difficult decisions have to be made.
This is one of the rare times in my life where I felt it was one hundred percent assured of success, but it wasn’t. It’s not dead obviously. There are other avenues and options but I had pinned my hopes on this one and I should know better. In this industry there are no guarantees and you can never be sure of what other people are looking for. What turns one person on is not someone else’s cup of tea. For all I know they could be looking for the next Anne of Green Gables, which mine is definitely not!
It’s important to realize that these things have to be kept in perspective. Yes have a pity party for a couple of hours, but then put it behind you and move on. Don’t get stuck focusing on the loss. Maybe these people didn’t get it but maybe somebody else will. And that’s the most important thing to remember….. who says they have good taste anyway? Is their God-like word going to ruin your good time and convince you to stop trying? Or do you say oh well and chalk it up to experience, and then go back and massage the script a bit more before sending it out again.
I suppose this is fresh for me because I’ve spent so long as a hired gun working on other people’s work. Rarely do I step out of the closet with my own material in hand. The reason of course because I hadn’t yet grown a thick enough skin to deal with the imminent rejection. And as we all know that is what this world is built on. And in the midst of that you have to continue to have enough belief in what you’re doing to keep moving forward anyway. So one person didn’t like it? So what! Move on to the next guy!
There are many ways to cobble together a budget and see something get made. If nothing else I know that. One door closes and another one opens. That’s just the nature of the business. The more times you do it, the more times you send something out, the more times your ego gets used to the letdown. You’re not bruised and bloodied nearly as badly because you’ve dealt with it before and can put it into perspective.
I do remember reading Stephen King talking about his early writing life and he had a nail on the wall where he stuck all of his rejection letters. And as he explains it, there was quite a thick pile. But he never gave up. To give up means you agree with the opinion of some faceless individual you’ve only corresponded with via email that you’ll never get to meet, or for that matter hear their perspective as to why they feel your work isn’t worthy of getting behind. If you met them, and heard their tastes and what they consider to be a good film, you may have very differing opinions. You may not agree with their likes and dislikes, therefore you are not going to see eye to eye on what makes a good film or television series or book for that matter. So why take it personally? Tastes are tastes… they differ. Truth is I’m a heck of a lot more likely to write the next Ghostbusters than I am The Imitation Game. That’s just who I am as a person. You just have to find the people that think what you do is relevant and interesting.
So prepare yourself for the rejection you are one hundred percent guaranteed to receive. Very few people in this game pull it off the first time out of the gate. It takes a lot of persistence and knocking on a lot of doors so be prepared for that. And when the rejection does come, sit and be with it for a while. I’m not telling you not to feel your feelings. Of course it’s going to hurt. Just don’t get stuck there afraid to move on to the next person. Don’t let the pity party last too long or you might never get up the gumption to try again. Have your moment and then let it pass. You can and will live to fight another day!