Form letter motivation.

“Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues

that in some way will be translated back into your work.”

James Lee Burke

“Everything is a rejection of you, not your product,

or your script, or a cosmetic. It’s you.”

Morgan Brittany

“I submit all my plays to the National Theatre for rejection.

To assure myself I am seeing clearly.”

Howard Barker

     On Sunday, June 5, I got my first rejection letter (email) in what is probably close to, or possibly exceeding, 3 years.  I think the last rejection letter I got was from a low C-level movie production company that I’d sent a really horrible movie treatment to.  I was 16 and quite retarded.  To be clear, I’ve never had an acceptance letter – so this isn’t the end of some amazing three-year streak for me or anything.  I just haven’t submitted anything to anyone in 3 years.

     Some people feed on praise and attention.  Others feed on their own desire to be good.  When I got that rejection letter yesterday, I got so excited that I realized something that kind of disturbs me in the “Am I a sociopath?” way–  I feed on rejection.  Not in a sick way, but in the sense that it tells me I’ve got more to learn, and it tells me that I’m “back in business” as a writer.  If you’re not getting rejection letters, you’re doing something wrong.  For me, what I was doing wrong was not writing.  Which is probably even worse than writing well enough to get acceptance letters (yikes!).  So, here’s the truth–

     I’ve never completed a feature screenplay.  Not one.  I thought I did, way back when, but I realized that my “80 pages,” when properly formatted, were only 47 pages.  I’ve only passed that “record” once since then.  It’s not that I’m incapable of finishing things, it’s that I’m incapable of forcing myself to do things.  I have no determination whatsoever.  I’m persistent, but only in the sense that despite having done literally nothing of worth over the past 3 years, I’m still pursuing filmmaking.  I frequently wonder if I’ll ever make it.  I know I’ve got the creativity, the writing skills, the ideas.  Just not the determination to sit in a chair for 3 hours and get it down on “paper.”  Which is retarded, because I know that my stories are worth telling.  I know they’ll take me somewhere in my career, somewhere I want to be.

     But I lack the motivation to continue.  Oddly, I now have that motivation in the form of a rejection letter.  I saved it as my desktop background, and every time I turn on the computer, it stares at me and challenges me with its taunt.  As soon as I post this (first things first), I’m going to sit down and write.  For 2 hours, no less.  No internet, no stopping, no breaks.  I’m just going to write.  I’m not really sure how much I’ll get done – it takes me a long time to write anything substantial – but it’s the time that matters.  The idea of establishing routine, of sitting down and working.

     And I have the editors of an unnamed publication to thank for that.  (Yes, it’s a form letter – I still like it, though.)

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One thought on “Form letter motivation.

  1. Speaking of having no motivation to write… I was this close to sending you a poke on Twitter and complaining that you hadn’t posted here in a few days! ;)

    Enjoyed your post, as always. Rejections help us grow, and your attitude is inspiring in that regard. Having gone through phases of inactivity in my writing, I know what it’s like to not make any progress… simply because you’re not doing it. Forcing yourself to work is the only way.

    And turning off the internet helps a lot. I do most of my writing on a laptop with no internet at all. ‘Tis bliss!

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