“It is fallacy that what ever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Sometimes it leaves you a whimpering ball of pain and desolation… One of the realities about being a creative person, an artist if you will, is that you will risk failure in a very public way. Actors get bad reviews, writers get rejection slips, and filmmakers who fail are cast aside for ones who succeed.
Your drive to succeed must be greater than your fear of failure.
This is a brutal business and if you aren’t up to the task you will be hurt. If I stop and think about it, I’ve failed most of the time (hundreds of auditions as an actor, dozens of screenplays and treatments left unsold as a writer, etc.). I just don’t usually take the time to stop and weep at the carnage. I ignore it and move on. The truth is failure doesn’t stop you. Not trying is what stops you.”
I wrote the above passage for my book “Long Night’s Journey Into Daybreak,” wherein I detailed the lessons I learned while making my first feature film, “Daybreak.”
I have spent my life surrounded by creative people and find that we all go through spells of lamenting the passage of years as related to our relative lack of success. You see, in our dreams, we all imagined a certain level of success and the comfort that goes with it. And so we’ve all had our moments where we proclaim ourselves “big, fat failures.”
It begs the question, is time a predator that stalks us or a companion that accompanies us on our journey? It depends on your point of view. Time is indeed a predator when you examine the ledger and find that you are far behind in the things you want to accomplish. For example, I began filming interviews for my documentary “Radio Changed America” in late 2004. I am currently working on upconverting those materials from Standard Definition to High Definition. Imagine how shocked and downright pissed off I was to realize that I’ve been toiling for six years on this still-uncompleted-artistic dream! Hell, I felt half-consumed by the predator Time!
So, as to be expected of a creative person, I proclaimed myself to be a “big, fat failure.” Not that I took out an ad in Daily Variety, of course. Worse, it was a jumbo neon billboard inside my head… Now, a little failure is good for the soul; these are the wounds from barbed wire fences separating us from our goals. However, dwelling on these little failures is both counter-productive and genuinely upsetting to those around you. Our lived ones suffer with us. They know all too well how deeply failure cuts the creative soul. They offer ceaseless words of encouragement. If we are wise, we take them!
Time is a companion in the sense that as we journey, we change and adapt with each passing event. We gain wisdom; feel fear and pain; flood our senses with joy and exhilaration and even stop to thank our loved ones for all those words of encouragement. We grow as artists and as human beings. it is that growth that fuels and creates our works of art. In this way, the many years of making “Radio Changed America” will prove to benefit the final work itself. If this work takes ten years to make, it simply means that it needed each of those ten years! It’s like thinking about the statue of David. The final form was always there, encased in a slab of marble, until Michelangelo set it free…
Fear of failure is okay. Failure, itself, is okay. But, not trying? I honestly can’t imagine what that must feel like…
Perhaps David eternally encased in marble?
I’m just saying…