On Rejection (again!) and Commercialism

Rejection is a way of life for artists: actors, writers, musicians, performers. Unfortunately, that's just the way it is. Even best-selling authors get rejected, if the piece/work is not right for an editor. Actors lose out on roles all the time -- yes, even Brad Pitt. The problem is, as an artist/writer who has not tasted success (meaning, publication) yet, rejections are difficult because there is no acceptance to balance that reality. How is an actor going to know he's on the right path if he never gets a job? How's an artist going to know she's doing something right if she's never sold or showed a piece? We can talk all we want about "art" and what's in our hearts, but that can only go so far to feed the artist's mind.

A real artist will always do art, because it's in their blood. It doesn't mean rejections are not difficult, especially when someone is just starting out.

I was lucky enough to get an acceptance right off the bat. It wasn't Glimmer Train or Paris Review or the New Yorker, but it was something -- and it paid. I was also lucky to get a movie role (and join SAG) pretty early on. That gave me the confidence I needed to face the rejections that came after. And to realize... you know what, rejection is not a death sentence. I will always write. And I will get accepted -- just not always now and here.

But when you've never been accepted before, rejections become doubly horrific and downright depressing.

As for commercial vs. literary -- we can all put a dollar amount on any work, and some writes/acts/paints/sings/etc. for money and some do it for love. All cool by me. But deep down, every artist eventually wants to be seen, heard, read, and appreciated. We all want an audience. Because art is about communication (OK, self expression, too, but we can just write diaries and draw in our little scrapbooks if self-expression is all we need). And if there's no one else to communicate to, what is the point?

An associate of mine, Emmy-winning actress Kathy Joosten, said something that stuck with me, and I paraphrase: "Art is wonderful and grand and all that, but if no one sees your art, who are you really serving? I want to get paid for my art, so I can afford to continue to show you my art."

Do care about your art, because that's the heart and soul of it all. But do try to get people to see your art, because that's really what makes it worthwhile.


Anonymous said…
Well said! I truly believe, for me, that I wouldn't have a problem with rejection. I have no stage fright and I think there's a connection. I just want to get [the writing, singing, acting, whatever] out there. If it stinks at least I tried!

Now if I could only come up with something I really wanted to write about. I'm pretty much resigned (for now) to the occasionally well written blog post.
Ray Wong said…
You are a writer, Dawno. But I know what you mean, about finding something you really want to write about. If it's your daily thoughts on your blog, so be it (for now). I enjoy your blog! :)

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