The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Twenty Questions #10: "How many times?"

(and yes, I'm skipping around a amuses me.)

"How Many Times Are You Willing To Hear "No"?"

Here's a big one if you choose to create a life of satisfaction and evolution.   "No" is a word , a look, a closed door, a rejection slip.  It is a failed diet, a training injury or loss.  It is a broken contract, a writer's block, a weakness of the body or mind, a lost relationship.

On the way to love, to success, to stability, to increase or healing of any kind, we meet failure.    And it is important that you ask yourself (and the different "aspects" of yourself, if clarity eludes...)
1) How many times are you willing to hear no?
2) What exactly does failure mean in this particular arena?
3) How many times did your role models fail before they achieved success?
4) What is the observed difference in what failure means to successful people in this arena, and UNSUCCESSFUL people in this arena.  I promise--there is a huge one.
5) What have you succeeded in in the past, after multiple failures?
6) How did you convince yourself to keep trying?
7) What does your "inner child" say about the meaning of failure?
8) What does the deepest, wisest being within you, your "inner elder" think of failure?
9)Is there any difference between what the male and female aspects of your personality think about failure?
10)  What would be the most empowering belief you could have, or action you could take, in relationship to a "no"?

Salesmen know that it is simply a numbers game: if you knock on enough doors, you'll eventually find someone who wants your product.  If you ask enough girls to dance, one will say "yes."  If you paper your walls with rejection slips, you are on your way to being a real writer.

In my own life, my mother tore up or burned my early stories.   My teachers and career counselors told me my dreams of being a writer were fantasies that would destroy my life.   I was told that people of my ethnicity "did not write".    Told I wasn't smart enough, lucky enough, talented enough.  Had story after story after story rejected, until I asked myself the critical question: how many more times am I willing to hear "no" before I quit?   And what I decided was that I would write, polish, and submit 100 stories and have them ALL circulating, before I even began to judge whether I was on the right track.   And you know what happened?  I got to about story twenty-two before I started selling, and have never looked back.

That was my commitment to myself.  It wasn't that I didn't cry, feel cheated, hear the negative voices, doubt myself, or anything else.   It was that I loved my dream of being a writer so much that I was willing to walk through the emotional fire, willing to push myself through pain, doubt, and fear...drawn by my dream of being an artist.  The little boy inside me adores my "adult" self for demanding that of myself.  And he rewards me with the energy and creativity I need to get up every day and hit is HARD and just love the entire process, even when it's hard.

And my "elder"?   He tells me life is both terribly short and achingly long.  Too short to live without getting that daily "juice" of becoming your truest self.  Too long to live with the regret of abandoning your dream. 

The choices are yours.  How many times are YOU willing to hear "no"?

Be the Hero in the adventure of your lifetime!


Jeff said...

Thanks for sharing Steve.

What kept you going in the face of your mother destroying your early stories?

That's a powerful deterrent for many people re: their dreams for themselves - the disapproval of a parent.

Anonymous said...
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Steven Barnes said...

I knew at an early age that the world was wrong about who I was. That created a sense of loneliness so deep that I can hardly express it...but also a kind of freedom. I had no safety net. No one could save me. If I was to have a dream, I would have to make it myself. One of the purposes of the "Ancient Child" is giving you a chance to re-parent, provide yourself with the emotional security to take risks for your happiness and sanity. Good luck!

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