As most of you know, I've been out to LA twice now to pitch The Regulars as a TV show. Last month, I shared that the only network who hadn't passed was MTV. We had a great pitch with them and there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement... but just before Xmas, we found out they passed.
Obviously, this was very disappointing. My imagination tends to be a furiously excitable, future-orientated thing, so by the time we got the dreaded "not this time" email, I was already in that writers' room, on that set, working those late hours... It wasn't the only piece of professional bad news I got over the holidays, so all told, while I had a fun and sunny trip, I was also coming to terms with a 2018 that looked quite different to what I'd been planning. In many ways, I had no choice but to think deeply on "failure", and how to turn it into a source of strength. What helped me:
1. It's okay to feel really, really shit. Often when you get bad news, there can be this kneejerk reaction from either yourself, or those who care about you, into how it's all going to be okay, chin up, you'll be fine, perspective, silver lining. And while that's helpful eventually, it is okay to feel those feels for a day or two. Wallow. Feel sorry for yourself. Whine. It mattered, so give yourself a break and bask in self-pity.
2. Know that "failure" is part of the process. Two things here. First, for every "success" I chronicle in this newsletter or on my social, there are, like, five "failures". No artist has win after win after win: it's literally not possible. Being an artist-entrepreneur as I am means constantly throwing lines out but more often than not getting no bites. It is how the game works. Secondly, I don't really believe in failure. It's not actually failure, it's more like a change of strategy, change of plans. So I try not to think "I failed", rather "Welp, guess I gotta try something else".
3. Defeat breeds tenacity. And tenacity breeds success. Get good at picking yourself back up. One of my mentors messaged me over Xmas, saying, "I have always admired your talent, drive, determination and capacity for hard work and have often referred to you when talking to younger writers. There are people who have writing talent and ideas but who aren’t willing to do what it takes and run into all the brick walls and pick themselves back up and simply keep going. I am proud to know you." Aw! And also, yes. You have to keep going. Cultivate this ability - it's as important as your talent; they go hand in hand. Learn what works for you to ensure you just. Keep. Going.
4. Lean on your support system. I am always paranoid about running out of money because I usually don't have much. It really adds to my stress: and it doesn't always need to. I have a partner, and we're a team. I'm self-reliant to a fault, but this year, I'm working on letting myself be helped and knowing my partner will be there to catch when I (inevitably) fall. And finally:
5. Move on. Projects often fall apart, don't work out, under-perform, disappear. You can do your best to fix them, but at some stage you might have to move the eff on. It's not healthy to be pining over what could've been: moving onto a new project re-energizes you, and will remind you there are other opportunities out there, and that you have the resources necessary to go after them. I often want to give this advice to new authors who can't let their first book go, even though the interest isn't there from the industry. Yes, it took years to write, yes it nearly killed you. But you won't be a published author unless you let it go, and start again. I have two unsold books-- two! Always, always, move on.