Sunday, March 27, 2016


Pick your poison.

The brief sting of rejection, or the lifetime of obscurity and regret.

It really is that simple.

I won't lie to you and say that having your work, your creative efforts, spurned is without pain. If you don't take a repudiation somewhat personally, chances are you shouldn't have been working on that project in the first place.

But the cold fact of the universe is that all great endeavors face rejection. The harsh critic who decries you for your misplaced ambition.

The other immutable truth is that, based on pure mathematics, these critics will tend to be correct. Not that their insight necessarily came from some pure wellspring of wisdom but that, on the law of averages, vastly more creative projects will fail than succeed.

Fail to find financing. Fail to find collaborators. Fail to reach completion. Fail to find an audience.

There is no genius in recognizing that there are too many creative projects in the world, and not enough spaces at the audience trough. Starting every conversation with 'no' is a poor man's excuse for business savvy.

But still, case studies abound.

The story of Harry Potter being rejected by every major British publisher, bar one, is now famous. What is not as ubiquitous is the tale of J.K Rowling's novels written under a pseudonym. In order to avoid the long shadow cast by her international profile, Ms Rowling wrote her now best selling crime novels in secret. As far as critics and audiences knew, the debut novel of 'Robert Galbraith'.

And, like most debut novels from seemingly unpublished authors, 'The Cuckoos Calling' was rejected by publishers.

Yes, even the author of a literary brand now worth $15 billion, can have her latest work turned down.

But here's the real rub.

Even when there is no blockage from the outset, when the whole project has the appearance of unmitigated success, obstacles lie in wait.

Take the film adaptation of 'Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix'. Having made $939 million at the box office, and countless more in the ancillary markets like DVD and Blu Ray, you might imagine that all the parties involved are building their houses out of bricks made of cash.

You would be wrong.

Despite this stellar financial result, the clever accounting practices of Hollywood studios mean that 'Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix' has NEVER MADE A PROFIT.

In fact, between it's release in 2007, and the leak of a balance sheet from the film in 2011, 'Harry Potter 5' had somehow managed to turn a $939 million box office haul into $167 million loss.

Even a success can seem like a closed door.

I could go on. I could tell you about a filmmaker I know, who's film was rejected by the 'A-list' film festivals of the world...then went on to be nominated for an Oscar.

Or the year of rejections two filmmakers received in Australia, before taking their concept to the U.S. to become a reality; giving birth to the billion-dollar 'Saw' franchise.

I could do that. Rant at you until the veins pulse and spittle forms.

Or I could simply tell you the truth.

There's always a wall. Always.

It's why creative projects are so hard. Why not everyone chooses this as their life's vocation.

No matter how strong the project. How great the cast. How sure you are that this is your best work.

The wall remains.

You can either climb it or go home.

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