Everyone takes pride in their work, but I think a creative person can take it a step further. There is something about being creative that is intensely personal. It’s not just a song or a painting or a novel, it’s a labor of love and passion this artist hopes the rest of the world will love and admire as much as she does. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen most of the time, and failure comes, deserved or not.
I recently read a great essay by Sean Hood, one of the screenwriters of the recent critical and box office bomb, Conan the Barbarian. To the question “What’s it like when your film flops at the box office?”, he shares his experience with such failure. I won’t reprint his response here, but it’s a great read, using the analogy of supporting a losing candidate in an election and sharing how his father’s example helps him deal with it and push on. Please go read it… you won’t regret it.
In my own case, I’ve received a slew of rejection letters from publishers over the years. More than that, I’ve gotten polite brush-offs of people who don’t want to read my work. Or worse, those people who smile and say something sufficiently vague to make you think they liked it, but upon reflection you realize it was just patronizing whitewash. Each time failure comes it’s tough. It hurts. True, you develop some thick skin, but deep down each rejection fuels buried insecurities.
Sometimes you have to step back and figure out if you need to take another direction to reach your goal. You have to answer questions like: Am I created to do this? Is this my passion and calling in life? Do I have something to offer the world? But then, when all is examined and all questions answered, it comes down to that critical moment. It’s not a question, but a decision:
Will I be defined by others and my past, or will I be the person God created me to be?
Which is it?
And that is actually the true moment of success or failure – not when others decide you have failed, but when you do.
How has failure shaped you? How do you respond to it? EDC