When you’re a screenwriter, it’s easy to fall into the thinking the THE WORLD HAS IT IN FOR YOU. Initiatives don’t shortlist you? They must hate you. Agents don’t want to read more of your work? They must be trying to destroy you. You haven’t won a contest or got an option? Why, that is blatant sabotage.
It’s hard, after multiple knockbacks, to not wallow in self pity and/or stick a fork in your leg. I’m not denying it. I’ve been turned down for more stuff in the last year than ever before. Worse still, I’ve made in-roads on various projects that have ended up going nowhere or grinding to a halt, so I don’t even know if they’re *still* opportunities. Do I follow it up still? Or am I kidding myself, is this a polite rejection (ie. you’ll never hear from us again, LOSER!)? Then come the THOUGHTS OF DOOM: maybe I’ll never get further than this! Argggh… Pass me the fork, stat!
The thing is though, this biz isn’t actually personal (unless you make a habit of stealing script editors’ lovers or running over literary agents’ pets of course). If you seem to have an endless run of bad luck, it’s not because anyone WANTS you to fail, it’s just unfortunate that all your rejections have come at once. And sometimes those rejections can go on for weeks, months or even a year or more.
Of course, a writer always WANTS to make it personal: “If I get this much rejection and it’s not them, then it MUST BE ME.” Uh-oh, here we go. Suddenly you’re telling yourself you’re NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Your self esteem suffers, your creativity goes tits up. Before you know it you’re a gibbering wreck telling everyone who’ll listen that you have no talent. And if you don’t do THAT and you *try* and tell yourself the tide will turn, you’re secretly worrying everyone is SAYING you have no talent.
The only way to cope with this is to do what every writer doesn’t do, because if they did it ALL the time, they’d never get any writing done:
I’m serious. The reason I’ve been rejected more this year than any other year in living memory is for one reason only:
I’ve tried for and been involved in, MORE STUFF. Duh. This is actual progress. I’m not looking for opportunities so much now, I’m looking to FIT THEM IN. So many of them won’t deliver – doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try. Besides, “delivering” has many different definitions in this business. Perhaps I’m doing stuff now that will mean my career is cemented down in the future? Whilst that would be nice, end of the day – I’m writing. I’m polishing. I’m networking, collaborating, being creative. And isn’t that actually what this whole lark is about, as opposed to oodles of cash, a big house and foreign holidays (though I’ll take all that too if anyone’s offering, ta).
So don’t invent stuff or scenarios or people in the shadows pointing figures. Don’t imagine doors are shutting or that your time is wasted. Just get on with it. Sometimes you’ll feel you’ll like crap. Get over it. Make your own luck, create your own opportunities and maybe it’ll pay off – and maybe it won’t. But try and you can’t kick yourself.