A while back, a former student of mine sent me this photo. He noted the irony — seeing as I’m such a big proponent of the opposite life strategy and all.
I’m not a huge fan of Bukowski, but I am a huge fan of my former student. He’s wise beyond his years, and he’s often given me food for thought, whether it’s through reading his stories and poems or having an extended conversation with him. So, given the source of the photo (if not the photo itself), I had the feeling there was a very important truth embedded in the “Don’t Try” message, even if it felt contradictory to other very important truths. I filed it away.
Fast forward. I recently watched an interview of a talented, successful young writer. The conversation turned to rejection and perseverance. The writer reported, with pride, that he’s collected over 20,000 rejection slips. He said he dutifully recorded each rejection in his notebook. Clearly this has worked for him. He’s well-published, making a name for himself. And it’s quantifiable proof of his relentless effort.
Do you want to know my first thought when I heard the number, though? Jesus. That’s a lot of counting.
I surprised myself. It wasn’t the rejection that put me off. It was the counting.
While I’ve done more than my share of counting in my life, I think it’s the last thing my creative process needs right now. Read the rest of this entry »