I think in this day and age of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al, discussing failure or admitting to your own failure is not deemed apropos. I suppose this is because there are equal upsides to downsides in sharing on social media. The upside to me is how quickly information can be shared (which can also be a downside), keeping up with our friends and family if only peripherally is still better then letting those relationships coast away. The downside of course is there’s an easy narcissism- editing your life to show only the sunny side or complaining endlessly hoping to elicit sympathy.
Then there are those, including myself who are from time to time afraid to admit when something didn’t work, when it hurt that it didn’t work. Whether it be a friendship, relationship, or business, admitting that you failed at something is difficult. For me it was the magazine I try to run a few years ago. Let me start out by saying I’m proud of what it accomplished, but I’ll admit, it started off completely on the wrong foot. I started it off on the wrong foot. Because at that point in my life I was too afraid to vocalize out loud what I really wanted, too afraid to pursue what I really wanted, all because I wasn’t really sure if I could accomplish that goal. The only thing I have ever really wanted was to write and to act. I had been guilty of keeping this secret to myself since I moved to New York. Let me tell you I have journal entries as far back as 10 years old saying, “All want to do is act and to write.”
But I digress. When I started the magazine it was in a way my idea of some odd shortcut, and like many short cuts, not a fabulous idea. I thought if I started a little art magazine I could write for, then maybe I could make a small name for myself as a writer. What I had stupidly thought might be a shortcut ended up being miles away from where I wanted to be.
When you work with so many talented people on a project and you’re not sure of your personal goals and intentions, everyone else’s agenda gets involved very quickly. I know this because I got as far away from my originally intended personal goal as I could get. The worst part is, I became a person I didn’t like (and a few other people didn’t like either). I was angry and frustrated all of the time and with the “Great Recession” in full swing, I could not have started something like this at a more unfavorable time. I don’t think it just failed because of a lack of money. I think it failed because I wasn’t being truthful with myself, and what I wanted to accomplish. Instead of just going through the tunnel (by the way I hate tunnels - so there is meaning in that metaphor) of trying to flesh out what I wanted I circumvented it over and over and over again.
After months of sleepless nights, answering hundreds of daily emails, emptying out my bank account, getting yelled at by multiple agents or a barrage of PR about what their client needed to wear for the photoshoot, or what they were or were not willing to talk about, or going to meeting after meeting with advertisers that said, “We can’t give you money for an ad but we can do a trade!” I finally looked up from my computer and said, “What in the hell am I doing?”
The funny thing (if there is a funny thing) is that this is when I met Bobby. When I felt the most frustrated, the most confused, and the most dejected. As I sat depressed watching terrible Lifetime (television for depressed women) movie after Lifetime movie Bobby grabbed the remote control, turned off the television, and asked me “If you want to do the magazine I’ll help you, but if the magazine is not what you want you should think about it.”
I didn’t have to make the decision about the magazine because without ad revenue there was no magazine. The magazine folded and it hurt. There were many tears on my end and many angry phone calls to answer from people whom the magazine owed money.
After the tears ended, my eyes finally glazed over from watching Lifetime’s account on how “William and Catherine: The Royal Couple” met I looked up at Bobby and said, “I just want to be a writer. I just want to act.”
"Then that’s what you should do." Bobby said.
For those of you that know Bobby, you know how extraordinary he is. He is loyal, loving, honest, talented and the hardest worker I know. He doesn’t take short cuts, and doesn’t believe in them. But what many of you don’t know is that Bobby doubled his shifts at the bars he worked at to support me financially while I worked on my writing. That’s hard for me to admit because many of you know I’ve had a job since I was 14 years old. Bobby said to me “If you truly know this is what you want to do please sit down and pursue it” and so during that time I end up writing a full-length feature film, a television pilot, a webisode series (“Writers”) and two plays, one of which was “The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace”.
Every artist needs their patron, and my husband happens to be mine. I am the first to admit if it weren’t for Bobby it would have been difficult as hell for me to have gotten so much work done in such a short amount of time. I want to do the same for him very soon as he is a talented and prolifically gifted writer. The failure of the magazine cost me money, some friends, and lots of time. But if it had succeeded what would have cost me? It wasn’t the right path for me, and that’s no one’s fault but my own. But if anyone of you is not pursuing your dreams because of a lack of money, worried about your age, worried that you will fail, worried that you won’t succeed please know that I believe in you. It’s worth getting the dream out of your head and onto the paper or wherever your dream may lie. Do your best to make your dream a reality. It’s so much better there.
Throwback Thursday: in story form.
My mother had a jewelry studio. It was in the garage of our house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After school I would sit on the steps just inside the studio and listen to the conversations my mom, Dan, and Doc would have. Dan and Doc both worked for my mother. They seemed like brothers than friends. They bonded over the difficultly of quitting smoking, a love of metal music, and political debating. All of these conversations took place as they cut copper, lit the welding torch, soldered the metal, pickled and buffed the jewelry. On one particular day after school I sat listening to a song and its lyrics: “If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man,
You win some, lose some, all the same to me,
The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say,
I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is
The Ace Of Spades”.
I said to Dan and Doc “oh I like this song. Who is it?” Dan and Doc both stopped what they were doing. “It’s Motörhead” they said simultaneously and incredulously. “Teresa why does Maya not know who Motörhead is?!” My mom smiled “she is more into R&B”. I smiled and said “I like this song. I want to know more about this music.” Doc and Dan gave me a quick overview of rock and metal. I asked them how they knew each other- I loved they way they wove there conversations together. Doc said, “We’ve known each other since ‘Nam.’ Doc was Vietnamese, Dan was a Vietnam soldier. As I continued to come in everyday after school to talk to Dan and Doc I realized they were both amazing people who were hurt, scarred, traumatized. They were both victims of a war that neither wanted any part of. They were suppose to be enemies and yet they were the same. They were brothers- victims of other peoples greed and ideologies. I learned so much from them. It was Dan that told me “Led Zeppelin, listen, you’ll love it.” I did. I do. It was Doc that showed me to forgive but never to forget, “or else we will repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.”
We do. And I wish we didn’t.
"If you read one thing today, make it the great James Baldwin on the creative process and the artist’s responsibility to society – so much timeless wisdom in this 1962 gem: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/08/20/james-baldwin-the-creative-process/ ” - Brianpickings.org
One of my very favorite blogs. xo Maya Contreras
I wrote this post over a month ago, and then I held off on posting it because I felt shy about it. I really don’t know when or how to announce happy news. Somehow even in tiny doses it always feels like bragging. But then not announcing it feels just as weird. So I’ve decided I’m going to put it…
"If you read one thing today, make it Maya Angelou on courage and evil: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/08/19/maya-angelou-bill-moyers-facing-evil/ ” - Brianpickings.org
Life. “Do you see this glass? I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. But when the wind blows and the glass falls off the shelf and breaks or if my elbow hits it and it falls to the ground “I say of course.” But when I know that the glass is already broken every minute with it is precious.” - Ajahn Chah