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
Well said! 🙂
🙂 Keep on, keeping on!
Excellent post, your highness.
I can relate to this completely. I’ll have been at this game for a decade in January, which probably seems insane to most people. Shit, it probably is. It’s anyone’s guess as to when I’ll be able to leave the day job behind, if ever.
But I agree. Persistence, tenacity — whatever you want to call it — is probably the most important thing at all when you’re trying to break in to such a competitive field. It trumps talent and it begets you the connections and opportunities you’ll need to succeed.
Keep it up, N.G. Cheering you on!
You are a huge inspiration to those who are only beginning their journey. Armed with the knowledge that rejection is essential to growth, persistence feels a helluvalot less scary.
Thank you for sharing!
You are most welcome. And inspiration comes from all!
If rejection is essential to growth, then I must have needed to grow a great deal 😉
I celebrated when I got my first rejection. I figured it was one down. I found my mantra a long time ago, and it has made life so much easier ever since. If something that appears to be bad happens I mentally step back and start to look for the good thing to come out of it. It works. Here is my mantra, and it was written about 2,000 years ago.
“It is possible to live out your whole life in perfect contentment, even though the whole world deafens you with its roar and wild beasts tear apart your body like a lump of clay. For nothing can shake a steady mind out of its peaceful repose; nothing can bar it from correct judgment, or defeat its readiness to see the benefit that all things bring. True understanding is to see the events of life in this way: “You are here only for my benefit, though rumor paints you otherwise.” And everything is turned to one’s advantage when he greets a situation like this: “You are the very thing I was looking for.” Truly, whatever arises in life is the right material to bring about your growth and the growth of those around you. This, in a word, is art–and this art called “life” is a practice suitable to both men and gods. Everything contains some special purpose and a hidden blessing; what then could be strange or arduous, when all life is here to greet you like an old and faithful friend?”
Thank you, Ron! Wonderful words!
Well said. It took me 5 years to get my first show optioned. It went right to the top. I got signed by CAA and partnered with a CSI: NY EP. Then it died. Then I got another show optioned. And another. Then History Channel called and put my first show into Development. We shot a demo. It went right to the top. And then they passed. Since then I’ve had 3 more shows optioned and one more put into Development. My Mom asked how long I’m going to keep doing this. I asked “Keep doing what? This is what I do. I create.” And if you’re a true creator, you CAN’T stop.
Well said, Keith, and true. I share your pain; been there more than once myself. But we have to do it, right? I’m helpless against the muse…. 🙂
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