I can’t believe I’m reading this, Scott, after having recently faced a big ol’ rejection to process…
Tim Plaehn
13

Tim, I read your Suzanne Sullivan post, all the way through it. Proves you’re a writer as it kept my interest!

Rejection is a strange thing. It can be debilitating. It can be motivating. It can also take a long time to see what it means in the long view of one’s life.

I was just thinking about it yesterday. Many years ago, I was living in Ventura, California. I was about 3 years into making a living as a musician and was at the time part of a quartet. We had a steady gig in Yosemite playing at various venues there. The guys had been talking with some other musicians in Santa Barbara about doing more of a rock band thing, a regular gig at a club in nearby Carpinteria. I joined in for a few rehearsals. Then I was informed they didn’t have room in the new band for me.

It was an economic decision: Why split the pay 5 ways instead of 4? What hurt most, of course, was the fact these guys were my friends. That’s a personal kind of rejection which stings.

Naturally I was bummed out. After living with that rejection for a few days, I was confronted with the question: What would I do now? The safest and most rational course of action: Go back into academics, get my doctorate like I’d planned to do. My year away from school to explore my creative interests as a musician had turned into three and what had it gotten me?

And yet…

After some long inner conversations, I realized I wasn’t ready to give up. The pull I felt toward the creative was still too strong. Returning to academics at that point would have felt like resigning myself to something ‘less than’.

I made a decision and shifted into being a solo musician. Applied myself even more diligently to the craft. Learning new songs. Practicing guitar. Studying songwriters. Reading books. Watching movies. Feeding my soul in the hopes I would become a better songwriter. And always writing.

For three years, I averaged 300 gigs per year.

I also developed my stage persona chops. That led me to try my hand at stand-up comedy for two years which ultimately resulted in my saying this: “I can do that.”

So while the sting of that rejection by my band-mates was very real and hurtful at the time, when I look back on it through the lens of my personal history, it’s likely I never would have discovered screenwriting had I not been rejected.

I don’t know. Maybe the only way one can read the tea leaves of what rejection means is in the past tense. Look at where you are today. Or where you end up tomorrow. Then track the trajectory of choices and events which lead you to the present. Was there some causality at work?

Ultimately we may never know. However it brings me back — yet again — the message of the Hero’s Journey: “Follow your bliss.” Discover that which enlivens you, an activity which brings you joy, a calling which provides meaning to your life, something you’re good at and passionate about… and do THAT. Measure what you do not so much by success in a material sense, but by the purpose pursuing your bliss brings to your efforts and life in general.

Whoa, Tim. Evidently your post inspired this lengthy response. Should probably turn this into a blog post. Would you mind if I linked to your post? Rejection is such a common experience for anyone involved in the creative arts, it’s a good subject for the GITS community to consider.

In any event, hope you are well. Still in Asheville?

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