The other day, I was put in charge of helping judging a screenwriting competition. After the competition results were announced, one of the writers asked me why his script was not chosen.
Now, the simplest answer I could give this writer was that his script was good, but the others were better.
In response, he asked me to list specifically why this was the case. I gave him some reasons, but I think the original answer was best.
The sadness and frustration he exhibited in response tugged at my heart strings. He put his heart on the line, and I squished it. But I had nothing against the man. He seemed nice enough. His script just didn’t grab me.
It was at that moment that I realized I knew what he was feeling, not because we were both writers, but because we were both men.
The last time I had felt the way he did, I was being turned down by a woman I liked.
Her rejection of me decimated my little heart. I wanted to know why I wasn’t good enough. Though I’m sure she could tell me in detail if forced (P. S. never do this), I think the simple truth is that… I just didn’t grab her.
In retrospect, I realized that, at the time, I was socially awkward, didn’t know how to talk to women, didn’t have much to offer them, and honestly didn’t even know who I was or what I wanted out of life. Therefore, even if she had said yes, it probably would have been a disaster. Sure, I would have been happy in that exact moment, but in the long run… yeah… no bueno.
Now, there is a thought out there that says, if you want to date an attractive woman, you should first befriend a few of them, thereby developing the social skills necessary to make that relationship viable between the two of you for any decent amount of time. I think that theory holds water, especially in the context of this discussion we’re having right now.
After the incident, I did start hanging out with other women. With a little coaching from a more experienced friend of mine, I learned how to talk with them, relate to them, how to share a meal without exploding with anxiety. Thanks to those experiences, when the woman that was to become my wife did finally come along, I was able to hold a conversation, make her laugh, and present myself as a person worth investing time in. And the rest is history…
With that in mind, I think the same advice I would give to young men is the same I would give to young writers…
First off, rejection is not personal, even though it certainly feels that way. Remember, you are not just pandering to a judge’s artist sensibilities, but also his/her mood at the time. (I for example can go through pages upon pages of movies on Netflix without choosing a single one. Or sometimes I pick the first one I see. It just depends.)
Second, your acceptance as a writer has a lot to do with your familiarity with the rubric against which you are judged. So many people rip on trending movies, in the same way that so many “nice guys” say that cute girls only date d-bags. The fact remains that there is a reason why those movies get made- and why hot women date bolder men, for that matter. Sure, those movies can be insipid at times, but they’re also exciting. Slapstick comedy; giant explosions; exotic, romantic flings: all these things are maybe not the most academic of elements, but they do appeal to a much larger demographic than, say, a sad, dying clown sitting in a dark room and weeping into a bowl of self-pity for three and half hours (oh, avante garde dramas…).
There are lots of sites (LA Screenwriter, to name one) that offer free access to everyone’s favorite scripts. Familiarize yourself with them, and then get yourself a laptop and get to work making your own. Note: I am not asking you to play the copycat or compromise your own unique sense of style for the sake of chasing after a quick buck, but I am saying that you may have to make sacrifices if you want to be publicly accepted (and thereby get paid). This leads me to my third and final point…
Make sure not to focus so much on pleasing the judges that you forget to work on yourself. Confidence in yourself, knowing who you are and what you want out of life, translates well into most situations, whether that be professionally or personally. If you go into a script knowing exactly what the script is about, what the characters want, and who would like it, then you, my friend, are light-years ahead of the game.
Now, I’m sure you may be highly skeptical of all I have to say here, and I am the first to admit that I am neither a dating expert nor an A-list writer, but I honestly believe if you internalize this advice, you will do very well for yourself and grow tremendously as a writer and as a person. Feel free to take it all with a grain of salt, but make sure to enjoy the journey along the way.
First and foremost, remember: victory comes to those play smart, work hard, and persevere!
Blessings to you in Christ,