Failure is always fine in retrospect. It’s when you’re in the middle of it that things can get dark. You wonder if you’ll ever make anything good ever again. It’s a common fear of creative people: We’re worried we’ll wake up one day and all our creativity will be gone. And yet, there’s not a single creative person out there who hasn’t failed miserably at some point. It’s going to happen, and then it’s going to happen again. What makes someone a pro is how they deal with it — how they move on.
It’s that time of year again. From Sundance to the Oscars, the Globes to SXSW and Tribeca, nominees and winners are everywhere in the trades right now. But if you’re sitting at home stockpiling a slew of rejection notices from festivals, labs, or contests and still grinding away at your work, seeing others bask in their achievements can become disheartening.
It wasn’t easy to find someone to interview about failure. It’s not just that people don’t like talking about their failures; they can’t remember them. Most failures are quickly forgotten — maybe as a form of mental self-defense. Everyone experiences failure; but when it comes to recalling specific defeats, people draw a blank. Which is why, over time, failure feels less like an acute pain and more like a chronic discomfort. It’s something we all must learn to live with. The question is: how can we live with it best?