Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"We are our own worst enemy" rings very, very true to me. I look at so many portfolios online and so many books in the library and stores and wonder, why not me? Well the answer is pretty simple. I have never believed enough in myself to let it happen. The difference between me and the folks with published books on those shelves that I browse is that they believed enough in themselves to be persistent and keep pursuing opportunities until somebody gave them a chance and they followed through.
All this is being brought on by me going through some old boxes of mine. (You see I'm a slight pack rat. I would swear I inherited it from my Mother but I'm sure the scientific validity of that could be called into question fairly easily.) I was looking through these boxes because in the back of my mind I remembered that I had held onto all the rejection letters I'd received from publishers I'd sent samples to after graduating from college.
You see, I'd graduated rather gung-ho and enthusiastic. Enthused at the prospect of doing for a living what had always been my passion. Drawing and Painting. I remember going to Kinko's and creating all these sample packets with a resume, cover letter, a few postcard size samples, and a SASE. I don't remember mailing them off. I do remember the responses trickling back in to my mailbox over the next few months. And I remember feeling very depressed and sad at the responses when I opened them. But I made myself keep those letters with the thought that when the day came that I started getting positive responses, I'd look back at those rejections and have a little laugh about what it was like getting started. A token of wisdom to share with family or children in the future.
I was looking for the letters to get some perspective. To see what kind of things I had done wrong so that I wouldn't make the same mistakes. As the new sets of letters began to come in I wanted to post those on this blog as part of my current journey. A way of cataloging the things I've done correctly and the good responses I get as well as the things I do wrong and need to adjust or do better the next time.
So imagine my surprise when I found this packet of letters and found that the scathing rejections I remembered weren't there. I know I didn't throw them away. So what happened to them? I remember the letters coming to me and being depressed. But they weren't there. No mean spirited art director rejections in the whole stack. I found to my pleasure that while some didn't currently have work for me, others liked my samples....Yes LIKED my samples and simply wanted me to send them more.
How in the world had this come across to me as rejection? Why had I never simply done what the Art Directors wanted me to and sent them more artwork? Was the prospect of being successful really that intimidating? Maybe I expected the letters to come back all negative and confirm my fears that I simply wasn't good enough. And when positive letters came I convinced myself of something else rather than deal with the fear of acceptance I was feeling rather than the fear of rejection I was expecting. I'd prepared myself for one and not the other.
Now here it is ten plus years later and I am just now ready to jump back into this possibility in my life. It took this long to get over that fear. Only to look back at it and see that I only had success to be fearful of.
It reminds me of a show I used to watch when I was younger, Tales from the Crypt or Darkside or something like that. During the ending credits a voice would come on and say something. I can't remember what it said exactly, but it managed to spook the bejeezums out of me. After that I remember every time the show was over, I had to get up and run to cut the show off before the spooky voice came on. As an adult I saw the show on TV in reruns and rewatched it. It got to the end and that urge in me to turn the channel before the voice came on was still there. But I no longer remembered what about the voice or end of the show was so scary to me. So I let it play. And you know what, I still have no idea what was so spooky to me about the end of that show. I'd managed to hold onto the fear all this time and had actually stopped being scared of whatever it was a long time ago. Lesson learned.
This time I'll prepare myself on both ends. I'll have support systems and crit groups and forums and art websites to help push me forward. I will promote myself in every way that I can. I'll have honesty about my capabilities and the things I need to work on and improve as well as confidence in the things that I FINALLY feel I am good enough at. I'll stay a student of this industry and learn all I can about it and how it works and do my best to pass on those lessons to others.
I am also going to put up a few of those letters I'd kept. And use them as a positive springboard for myself. Let the process I started ten plus years ago still be the start of my process today. And I will post the letters I get as things move forward. Be they positive or negative. And I will learn and grow from them as I make myself good enough to gain access to this industry I have wanted to be a part of for so long. Wish me luck and endurance folks!