Monday, February 17, 2014

Yoda Was Wrong

OK, this might be a bit geekier that I sometimes get, but in one of the Star Wars movies (I think it was The Empire Strikes Back) Yoda tells Luke: “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” Which may be true when you're trying to save the galaxy from an evil empire, but in normal everyday life, there can be lots of trying. A person doesn't have to always succeed or fail, trying in and of itself is an accomplishment.

Last year another writer friend started a contest, or maybe a bet, to see which person in the group of writers he knows could get the most rejections. That's right rejections. I didn't win, though I blame part of my loss on poor record keeping. But a rejection, in and of itself, doesn't say too much about the quality and eventual sales of a book, story, play, etc. There are many stories of books rejected by publishers that go on to wide acclaim and sales.

The book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was originally rejected, 140 years later people are still reading it. Agatha Christie had years of rejections before she sold her first book now her books have sold in the billions. And most of us have heard about J.K. Rowling's rejections before she sold her first Harry Potter book.

But rejections are only evidence of one thing. Trying. Before you get rejected you have to try something. They aren't a failure. Dr. Seuss was told his stuff was “too different” for the market. Well we know how that went. He redefined the market. Sometimes the only way to fail is not to try.

Within the last week I've had a poem accepted for publication and another set rejected. And sometime in the next few days I expect another rejection. One magazine rejects my stuff after about six weeks. Of course as soon as I get the rejection I send them a new batch to look over.

I've also recently learned that one of my plays has been selected for the TCT Playwright's Festival. Of the half dozen or so plays I sent out last year, I only had that one success. Sort of. I've also worked with Gary Mazzola on a couple short films (including Moon Rabbit which was finished this last year). And I have no plans to stop sending things out for rejection anytime soon.

And speaking of the Playwright's Festival, there's something you can try for a rejection. Soon there will be an announcement for auditions. And given that there are eight plays there can be a large number of parts open for people of all types. So you have an opportunity to try out for a part. The plays are only ten minutes, so it's not like you have to learn hours of dialog. And it can be a good way to get your feet wet, so to speak. Some of the actors in the ten minute plays just check something off a bucket list, while others catch the bug and go on to do many other plays.

 So keep an eye out for the audition announcement and then ignore the advice of Yoda. Go out and try.

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