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Failure Is Just 'Sucksess': A TV/Film Writer's Lament

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Here's the plain, simple truth: most of us fail like unbroken clockwork most of the time. In fact you could say that the only thing that we succeed at with any regularity is failure.

Being a veteran TV/film writer I am often asked to lecture or adjunct teach at various colleges and here's what I always tell my kids: think of the word nothing. The thing... about no... is it means nothing. And you know what? I think what I'm actually telling them is quite the opposite.

"No" usually arrives with the full impact of the worst possible insult and there is no Iron Dome to protect us from it. Trust me, that little rocket is going to find its target, which is always the soft, white underbelly of you.

It is often unexpected and for a while anyway, it is the stabbing knife that keeps on giving. It's like living in the throes of an eviscerated romantic relationship: every minute, every second is a loud, resounding declaration that all of your existence just plain sucks. It is painful and cannot be eliminated by drugs or alcohol or food, no matter how hard we try.

In other words: we just have to live with it, like the worst kind of in-law possible, until one day it finally decides that it has annoyed you enough and it's time to move on to the next target.

But what have we experienced? Here's the thing kids: for the entire duration of it's occupancy in our lives, we have joined forces with it and made things much, much worse for ourselves. We go way beyond the Stockholm syndrome until we in fact become the evil itself.

We usually fail at failure.

Why? Because most of us are uniquely sensitive people who carry these little voices in our heads, that echo in the canyon of our soul which just amplifies the message: you are nothing. You deserve to be punished. So fuck you. And the cancer spreads beyond there. Little things suddenly become BIG things and you perceive any kind of resistance to you in any way as a mammoth insult and you wind up attacking innocent people who have no idea why you are so insane. We are, in the moment, mentally disturbed, colossally defensive, rude and just impossible to be around. Self-terrorists.

Failure makes us sloppy at being neat and orderly with our feelings.

Now when you are in my racket: writing (TV, film, books and plays) you are increasingly exponentially at risk of being casually reminded that both you and your work just blows. Or worse: you won't get a reaction at all, like whoever the reader is just didn't think you or your work was important enough to donate the 45 minutes it takes to devour your art.

Failure can be missiles flying at your heart and genitals seven days a week.

So what is the answer? Well the reason that I'm writing this is because in my little world, it's been raining rejection lately with such biblical proportions that I feel like one big No-ah and my own, personal arc is sinking.

Failure hurts all the time. It is nothing but "sucksess": the most painful part of getting there, if you get there at all.

So what is to be done here? Lie wounded in the battlefield of your own personal matrix of defeats and wait to be buried alive?

I don't think so. I think we need to declare ourselves free agents and cast ourselves as adrift as we feel. Surrender. Now I know that sounds absurd.

But failure is not surrender.

Failure is here to remind us that we all get to be resurrected over and over and over again. Jesus did it once so we could do it again with staggering frequency. And hey, I'm a Jew. Being a good Christian (or Jew) may be being the best kind of fuck up you can be.

We also have to remind ourselves, that the universe, as perceived by us, individually simply does not exist. When we experience the full, unrelenting sucker punch of the cataclysmic events of our lives here's the fact: It is just a dream.

There are no hurricanes, tsunamis or earthquakes. There is only your own twisted and self-mangled, rogue imagination at work whose one simple motive is clear:

It wants you dead because it believes, like the worst kind of abuse possible, that you are not worth it.

So what is to be done? Ignore it? Good luck with that. Let it bombard you until you fall apart? Gee, when did you get so important that any situation or for that matter God, would bother to take the time out from far the more important tasks on his to-do list like taking care of world hunger or making sure yet another baseball player hits a home run?

We are our own God of wrath so therefore we have all the control and we have all answers.

Let bliss be your own, personal cleansing rain and walk naked and unafraid in it's abundance. Shower the person you should love with love and nurse yourself back to sanity.

Failure is temporary. It's simply the man who came to dinner, trying to to trick you into choking on your brussels sprouts. It's a 24-48 hour satanic possession. So drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of bed rest and wait for the exorcist to tell it to go fuck itself.

Failure is not the vampire in The Strain. It is not a zombie invasion. It is not the end of time. (Which is why we love our disaster films because they often feel like home movies to us).

Do something -- anything that creates physical movement and I promise you, things will begin to shift and move, things will become tolerable and manageable again and eventually that nasty-ass feeling of failure will move on too.

Other than that, I've got nothing.