Rejection and Perspective

May 2, 2011

Last night I got my first homework assignment back from my screenwriting class. I already studied screenwriting in LA and I was under the impression that I was moderately good. After all, I got paid sometimes. I'm only taking this class as part of my master's degree because the classes I wanted to take weren't available and I needed another elective. I thought it was silly to pay to learn something twice.

So I was more than a little surprised to get my first piece back and find out I'd gotten almost the lowest passing grade you can get. Am I really that bad, or is it because I had to turn in a quickly written first draft due to the amount of homework I have in all three classes? Or maybe it's an Australian vs American thing – different ways of looking at stories. Or the fact that I'm a genre/romantic comedy girl in a literary/indie-arthouse-film program – different preferences.

I'm not sure yet. I'm giving myself the usual 24 hours to whine and whinge (an awesome Australian word that means “to complain”), then I'm going to re-read what I turned in and re-read my teacher's comments. Then I'll decide what I think.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep a little perspective. Six months from now no one will remember this grade. I'll have the degree and no one will ask me what grades I got, only what I learned and would I do it again. Six months from now I might be making this short film with my friends in LA on a shoestring budget. It might turn out to be horrible or awesome, but likely somewhere in between. And it probably won't be entirely the same script because I'm not good enough to write a workable first draft.

The great thing about getting older is that you learn to gain perspective when things go wrong. I'm quite curious to see where I am in a year or two and see whether this hiccup affected my career path at all. If there is any effect, I expect it will be because I took the time to look for what I could learn from the experience and I grew as a person and as a writer. I can live with that, regardless of the (horrible) grade.

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