It hits you like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer coming down upon your head. You discover that they didn’t cut your song or pick up your song to publish. Or worse yet, they cut it and didn’t include it on the album. Or perhaps you were one of two finalists in a contest, and the other one won.
So you go around moping and feeling sorry for yourself for hours, days, weeks, months, even years. That should have been mine, you say to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen. They have tin ears. . .They are idiots. . . They wouldn’t know a good song if it fell out of the sky and knocked them flat. . . They don’t deserve their jobs. . .They chose something so awful words can’t describe it. . . How could they have chosen that song over mine, which anyone can see was absolutely perfect for them?
You rail against the amorphous “they” and “them,” but the truth is, even though you love your writing, and perhaps with good reason, in this case it wasn’t right for them and their project, at least in their view. And that’s the only view that counts for them.
It’s rather like convincing your date that he or she should fall in love with you. No amount of teasing, tempting, cajoling and heavy breathing is going to turn the heart of someone who doesn’t feel it. Though your own eyes can see “what it could be,” the object of your interest him-or herself has to be able to see it in that blind way we all have of “seeing” with our gut instinct.
And so that project slips away from you, and another and another, and sometimes you cry out of frustration, and ask yourself, “What is wrong with me?” or “Why can’t I get chosen?” or worse, “Am I fooling myself?” And the answer to that is quite simple:
It doesn’t help you in any way to be jealous or envious of what others get, of their success and accomplishments, or their “luck.” If someone else’s luck makes you moody, brooding, angry, and resentful, then you are fighting the laws of the universe, which deem that this project you wanted belongs to someone else. By putting all your energies into this negative grinding of the gut, you are suppressing your own ability to create and be successful. The time you spend worrying about what you don’t have and what you believe you’ve lost, is time you take away from creating some other potentially fabulous endeavor.
A successful producer friend told me that as a student he had asked Desi Arnaz who had appeared at a college lecture, “How do I become successful?” Desi scratched his chin for a minute, broke into a grin, and said, “You will make it. You just have to live long enough.” The message: You just have to wait your turn.”
I came very close to having the theme to the hit TV show Ally McBeal. In fact, it was the only song in final contention until they decided to go with my old friend Vonda Shepard as an actual integral part of the show – much more of an entity in the show than simply a title song. I was very philosophical about it. I said, “This is Vonda’s break, this is her karma to have this, and I want her to have it.” And although it was disappointing not to get it myself, I understood: There’s Enough For Everyone. I get, got, and will get other things that are supposed to be mine.
An Irish Mom named Nora McLaughlin reminds each of us of an Irish saying, “What’s for you won’t go past you.” The message: If it is meant to be yours, it will be. Each of us has something waiting for us, some wonderful fulfillment. Unfortunately, we mistakenly convince ourselves that certain things we would like to have are meant for us, when they actually have someone else’s name on them. Needless to say, that same disappointment comes around to others when the accomplishment they would love to have – the one with your name on it – doesn’t come to anyone but you.
So you can either walk through life filled with self-pity about what is not happening for you, and what is happening for someone else; or you can pull yourself together, keep writing and keep going. I suggest you develop and adopt this very sane philosophy: Nobody gets Everything, but Everybody gets Something.
No matter how many projects slip by without your name on them, your turn – perhaps your many turns – will come if you keep plugging away and keep trying, and incidentally get more proficient not to mention more profound at your writing. It may be today, tomorrow, next week, or five years from now that your opportunity comes up. Be there with bells on to enjoy it, celebrate it, capitalize on it. Believe it or not, despite your experience to the contrary thus far, or from time to time, There’s Enough For Everyone.