The theme of the day is rejection.
If you’ve chosen to be a writer, musician or artist in this life, congratulations. And my apologies.
Rejection is part of the gamble for the life of an artist trying to promote their work with the public in any fashion.
You will not avoid it.
The Musicians Assistant Program, a non-profit in (or used to be in) LA, put out a newsletter with this advice in June of 2002:
“Rejection can cause you to feel unworthy, unwanted or undesirable. It may evoke feelings of anger and depression. The first step in handling rejection is to learn how to distinguish yourself from your work. You may pour your heart and soul into your music, but to survive as a musician you must be able to establish “boundaries” between yourself and the music you create. Success may become impossible if you cannot bear the pain of rejection.”
It’s the damn truth.
We all know some prima donna out there saying, “I’m so good, they won’t even know what hit them.” And yet they never even bother putting their work out there.
You, sitting on the couch swilling a Pabst with your hand in your pants while using the other hand to point your finger, when is the last time you got up in public and read one of your stories? When is the last time you submitted a piece of work to a place you really admire? When is the last time you played your music or sang for a group of people? When is the last time you did either of these things to a heckling or disenchanted crowd and then got up the next day to do it all over again?
I didn’t think so.
A friend shared the following story with me today:
“There is this boy at work, and he’s just a kid, maybe 16 – 19 years old. And when he started working there, he told everyone that this was his second job. Some people asked what his first job was, and he said he has a youtube channel with advertisers and such, so he makes some money there. Naturally, a bunch of people checked out his channel, and he fancies himself a rapper. He has a rap about an amusement park. While all this sounds a little silly to me, the main thing that stood out for me (and what I said) when everyone was cracking jokes about his ‘amusement park rap’ is this: At least he has the balls to do it. I sure as hell don’t.”
Truth is, not everyone will like your writing or your music. They may even make fun of it, or you. But you’re going to have to go out there in front of people and give it your all anyways.
When it comes to music and writing, tastes are immensely varied; this causes all sorts of confusion over what is “good” or not.
It is all extremely subjective.
My rule is this: If you like your own writing and music, that’s very good. If you don’t, go back to the drawing board and create something you like – because you are going to have to stand behind that thing you created for a long, long time, through thick and thin, one rejection after another, without losing the ability to keep putting yourself out there.
If you’re not 100% about your own stuff it’s going to be rather tough to promote it to anyone besides your devoted granny.
You have to believe in yourself. You have to be your own cheerleader. No one else can fill the hole in you and pep you up constantly, and you will need constant freaking pepping.
From Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”:
“The Marine Corps teaches you how to be miserable. This is invaluable for an artist. Marines love to be miserable. Marines derive a perverse satisfaction in having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys or flyboys, all of whom they despise. Why? Because those candyasses don’t know how to be miserable.
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.
The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or desk jockey.
Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.”
Be strong. Cry behind closed doors. Confide in your family and friends. Put on a happy face and try and fail again and again and again.
It’s miserable. It just ain’t fair, but for whatever reason it’s necessary. It’s all a part of the process.
“Rejection is a new coat of armor that must be worn at all times,” – Christopher Knab/Music Consultant