Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to respond to failure

One of the writers of the just-released -- and just-flopped -- Conan the Barbarian movie answers the question, What's it like to be the writer of a movie that fails? This part spoke to me, for a lot of reasons:

My father is a retired trumpet player. I remember, when I was a boy, watching him spend months preparing for an audition with a famous philharmonic. Trumpet positions in major orchestras only become available once every few years. Hundreds of world class players will fly in to try out for these positions from all over the world. I remember my dad coming home from this competition, one that he desperately wanted to win, one that he desperately needed to win because work was so hard to come by. Out of hundreds of candidates and days of auditions and callbacks, my father came in....second.

It was devastating for him. He looked completely numb. To come that close and lose tore out his heart. But the next morning, at 6:00 AM, the same way he had done every morning since the age of 12, he did his mouthpiece drills. He did his warm ups. He practiced his usual routines, the same ones he tells his students they need to play every single day. He didn't take the morning off. He just went on. He was and is a trumpet player and that's what trumpet players do, come success or failure.

Less than a year later, he went on to win a position with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he played for three decades. Good thing he kept practicing.

Sometimes -- most times, even -- the only thing to do is keep going.


Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Ah, thanks for this important message. Gotta keep on keeping on.

Lynn said...

What?! It failed already? I just started seeing ads for it last week. It really doesn't take long to fail these days.

fillyjonk said...

I should print that little story out and stick it up somewhere in my office.

While I always DO "keep on keepin' on" through difficulty and failure, I'm also often beset by strong feelings of "why are you even bothering? You're not good enough at this."

It's better to keep doing the "mouthpiece drills," so to speak, than it is to wallow in self-pity.