I got some emails and texts from friends after my previous post that made me realize that I never clarified if I was giving up on my screenplay (and/or writing) or not.
The night after I got the rejection email, I was full of vegan pizza (Mellow Mushroom really makes a great gluten-free vegan pizza!) and watching some pre-bedtime TV with my husband and son in our hotel room. Somehow we stumbled onto an episode of Full House, my favorite show when I was a kid. My six year old told me it "was so old." I asked him how he could tell and he said, "It just looks old." Thanks, kid.
Anyway, it was the episode where Uncle Joey made it on to Star Search but lost to the guy who would later go on to make "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist."
We turned it on just as declared his comedy career dead Joey backstage. The scene follows like this:
I've been in the same rut for the last 10 years. I've never been on Carson, Letterman or Arsenio. lf that's not failure, I don't know what is.
I'll tell you what is. That attitude. Your problem is the way that you're looking at success. Do you love being a standup comic?
Have you made thousands of people laugh, millions tonight?
Before this stupid deadline of yours, were you happy?
Personal happiness and bringing joy to others, it sounds like success to me. Joey, I know how you feel. I'm the same way, man. I'm not where I wanna be with my music career. Even if I never sell a record, I won't have one regret. You know why? Because I love making music, and I'll never stop doing it.
John and I cracked up at the serendipitous timing of John Stamos's speech. I don't know if it was God, the Doctor (oh, please let it be the Doctor) or a telepathic Nick at Nite programmer but I needed to hear that pep talk at that exact moment. The fact that it came in the form of Full House made it all the more hilarious.
But Uncle Jesse is right. I know in my heart that if I gave up screenwriting, I would regret it forever. I would wonder "What if?" Even if I never sell a single word, I can't stop. It's who I am.
And now I'll provide a window into my strange mind (if this post hasn't been strange enough). I've always felt I would have success at screenwriting. It's a simple belief but a strong one and it's always been with me. That belief has spurred me to push myself to work and to write. When I found out I didn't make the cut, I felt like I was totally lost. Where was my reward? What I now realize is that my belief is a reassurance, not an entitlement. I took it as an entitlement for working super hard and getting everything just right. When I was rejected, I felt I was horrible, everything was wrong and I sucked. As I look back at it, I've decided to look at the belief as reassurance. A reassurance that even though I'm not perfect and make mistakes, I can be a success. I don't have to know everything. I don't have to research for hours and get everything just right. I can put my family first without having a storyboard ruling my life. I can make my family a priority and still have a successful career. I have a really awesome family and I can find joy in that instead of waiting for happiness in the form of a fellowship or a script sale.
I finally got to a point the other night where I was ready to read my script. I hadn't read it since before the contest (back in May) and oh. My. The dialogue in parts was SO bad. The tone is all over the place. Overall, I love the story and the characters. I love their world. I think it's plotted well. But man! I'm actually grateful the script was rejected! For starters, I would be really embarrassed for more people to read it. If by some strange fluke I won a fellowship or sold it, I would be mortified and probably wouldn't sell another script again. I'm embarrassed to have my friends read it! Secondly, I'm grateful that I could recognize how bad it was. It means I do have some instinct and some knowledge about what I'm doing (or trying to do). I have a direction. I'm actually happy I made mistakes and that I (think) can fix them!
I am not quitting. I'm going to polish my script and I'm going to submit it to the competition next year. I'm also at work on a new one (a horror/comedy I've had swimming in my head for the past month). I'm so grateful for awesome, talented friends and supporters. I couldn't do it without you.
Thanks, Uncle Jesse.