A Thousand Paths to NO

This weekend I finished reading a great little book called “A Curious Mind” by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman. It’s told from the perspective of Grazer, who is a well-known and successful producer associated with director Ron Howard and Imagine Entertainment. He attributes all of his successes to the simple fact of being curious, and following up on that curiosity to learn more and become more in his life.

One of the early sections of the book talks about the way business is conducted in Hollywood. Ninety percent of the time, Grazer said, no matter what the question is, the answer is no. There are too many possibilities and Hollywood is inherently fiscally conservative, so they are not going to take risks unless you can convince them that your idea will work. So get used to hearing the word no, Grazer says. Even after decades of successes and being established in Hollywood, he hears NO every day. Just get used to it.

I don’t know why, but I found that comforting. I tell my writing students to get used to rejection. If you are going to be a writer, rejection is inevitable. In a sense, I feel sorry for those writers who find success on their very first book, because they haven’t had the character-building opportunities that comes with writing despite rejection after rejection. It’s painful, I know. And even after my own decades of writing and publishing books and stories and articles, I still get hurt when someone criticizes my work.

But it’s real life. And like I said, if I know that Hollywood is one big rejection slip, maybe what I am suffering isn’t quite so bad. I’m not alone. The trick is to rise above the rejection.

Like the old saying goes: It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get back up again.

Time to get up.