Many a blog is devoted to the key elements needed to develop a career as a storyteller. Talent, of course, everyone talks about that, then that adjective is waved away, as talent is nothing without commitment… and then, that moniker is readily dismissed, and replaced by the word discipline.
To me, there is one word, and one word only, that holds the key to life/career success: Persistence.
To be a storyteller is like living the punishment of Sisyphus: sentenced to forever roll a massive boulder (your heart/soul/script/film-in-making) up a gargantuan incline only to, at the end of the day, watch it roll back down… and have to start all over again.
Rarely does a month go by without hearing from or of a friend or acquaintance who has “said when” to the machinations of this business, turned in their iMac and/or camera, and set off to new lands, where new adventures await them. I tell them that I will miss them (I will) and I wish them well (I do), and then I breathe a deep sigh of relief that somehow I have dodged the bullet of acceptance of defeat.
You see, I’m persistent.
I work very hard to maintain a positive attitude; I take deep breaths and journey to my place of zen. Do not fear – I will never live in a universe filled with rainbow sprites and unicorns, where people sparkle and coo nurturing cache-phrases while popping frosted edamame. I prefer my life in the trenches, with my team. It’s indie film. The rations are depleted. We’ve one magazine left between 20 of us… and yet, we do not fear. We will get the job done, and we will do it together.
EXT. GARMENT DISTRICT – WAREHOUSE – BEFORE DAWN
Loud music blares from open windows, the discordant wail of a rave gone bad.
On the street, a huddled clump of cast and crew. They sit on apple boxes; a few of them are wrapped in worn towels and quilts. On top of a cooler rests a coffee maker.
The DIRECTOR, female, walks to the coffee table. She holds a cup under the spigot – nothing comes out. She tries again – nothing. Her hand trails down the electric cord… which rests on the sidewalk below. No plug. No coffee.
What would you do? Would you throw in the towel, give up, call it a wrap?
No. You would see it through. All of you would. Why? Because you have persistence.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” ~ Calvin Coolidge
If you live and breathe story and film, you must have persistence to succeed. Not only on the set, but in the heart and soul. Those days when you want to give up… what keeps you from doing so? Persistence. When you are pitching a project, what gets you in the door? Persistence. Need representation? You will hear “no” a thousand times. You must persist
Persistence must, of course, come hand in hand with growth and flexibility. Examine why you are hearing “no”. Is there a reason being given that you have heard more than once? More than twice? If so, you should listen to the criticism, apply, adjust… and persist.
Eventually you will hear “yes”.
No one ever got a green-light by giving up. In order to hear yes, you must have persistence. Good things do not come to those who merely wait. Good things come to those who persist.
Now, persist – and go write.
HRH, Princess Scribe