Those of you who know me, may know that I can be somewhat of a dreamer. I tend to develop these crazy ideas in my head regarding some sort of creative project and then become a bit too obsessed with the completion of the project. Sure, there are some that have fallen by the wayside, never actually seen to fruition. . .ok, there’s a ton of those, but there’s several giant projects I’ve taken on over the years that I’ve seen to the finish. I’m quite proud of that.
A discussion with my wife last night led me to reflecting on these insane projects I’ve put myself into, ones that have left my head swirling with possibilities of moving forward and actually being able to develop a bit more a career path than I currently have. I’ve always been well aware of the multitude of failures that I’ve left in my wake. The couple of film projects I’ve pursued and completed are fantastic examples of that. In fact, the last film project I worked on is something I wish I could burn from existence. . .
These failures have had a tendency to weigh on my. After I completed my first real attempt at a creative project of my own, the first film I produced called Deadline, I was absolutely distraught. I mean, it’s really stupid that I expected anything more than I got, considering the 30 day deadline we had for the project from start to finish. And, it’s actually not that bad, all things considered. But in my head I had developed this idea that it would be perfect, the next Clerks of independent films. It was stupid, and I realized it at the time, but I had some high hopes that I just couldn’t wash away. It took me four years after completing that project to even consider trying something like that again, or anything creative for that matter. I had all but separated myself from any creative pursuits, including the theatre I had spent the majority of the previous few years working with.
I couldn’t handle it. Seeing my work in its completed state had this effect on me that just left me believing that I had no right to ever try to be creative. That may be true. . . I suppose, but I’m going to ignore that pessimistic thought for now.
Quick side track, remembering how I reacted to this failure brought me back to my first real memory of an attempt at doing something truly creative, which, believe it or not, was my attempt to write a novel back when I was about 7. I spent a week thinking about the book I wanted to write and then sat down and spent a whole day working on it. . . I completed a majority of the story in about 3 pages. I decided I was not a writer.
Anyways, back to the lecture at hand. . . after about four years, I once again began thinking about how much I enjoyed the process of creating Deadline and was suddenly hit with an idea of how to address the issues I had seen with my previous work and came up with something much larger in scale. I decided I was going to do my best to fix things on the production side of things, and unfortunately focused on that a bit more than I should have. Another rushed production schedule and lack of focus on the writing left me with something that I absolutely can’t watch. It’s nothing against the cast and crew who helped me put this thing together. They all did a fantastic job, and I fear I never actually relayed that to them well enough. No, the failures I saw were entirely my own, and I saw the finished product to actually be a step back from the previous work.
Luckily, I did attempt to jump right back on the horse and began development of a few new ideas, this time with a collaborator. Unfortunately, I was still so distressed over my previous failure that I just couldn’t get up the guts to really try again. It took me three years before I actually felt ready to move forward.
That’s when I began writing THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO.
Now, this is a simplified list of my failures. There’s been many between of different levels of scale. All of which were things I considered to be a fantastic idea, but found my implementation lacking. Each time, seeing my results, I would enter a shame spiral, not certain what I would do with this continually nagging feeling that I should do something creative with my life.
All of these moments sucked hard. Each time I failed felt like a piece of me dying. Each time I failed, I found myself in this odd position where I had no personal direction. But, after I had time to reflect on these failures, I also found myself learning from these experiences. In fact, I learned a whole helluva lot from each of them, putting myself, each time, in a much better position to pursue the next.
The problem was, I was comparing myself to people who had succeeded, seemingly with little to no failure in their history. I still do that. However, a look at any list of quotes from famous people will find a plethora of examples of people talking about how much failure is a prerequisite for success. I agree wholeheartedly.
If, somehow, I had succeeded with my previous creative attempts, I would have found myself feeling quite embarrassed. I had no idea of what I was doing (an easy argument could be made that I still don’t) and made things that were all experiments in how to tell the stories I wanted to tell. If I had somehow succeeded in my initial attempts to sell THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO, I would have found myself putting out something much less than the book should be, than the book currently is.
I failed so I could move forward and continue and learn. I failed, I believe, so I could succeed.
Failure sucks. I hate it. But if you want to do something truly unique, something truly original, failure is necessary. I accept my failures, and I accept that I will continue to fail. The important part is that I will continue.
Anyways, I’ve got some succeeding to do right now, so I’ll chat with you all later. Have a good one!