This Fall Quarter, students enrolled in Courtney Putnam’s HUMAN 210 course (part one in the year-long series to produce Cascadia’s creative arts magazine Yours Truly) are reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and debunking common myths about creativity, myths that Gilbert addresses in her book. In the following post, Cascadia student Rachelle Suko addresses the myth that you should stop creating art if you keep getting rejected.
Failure is Only Failure if You Give Up
by Rachelle Suko
At twenty-five years old, before becoming the first female billionaire author, J.K. Rowling experienced rejection. Upon submitting the manuscript for her first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to more than twelve publishers, Rowling was rejected by every single one. She began to lose faith in her writing and the book which she had so lovingly poured her heart into. Yet she pressed on, and at last, a publishing company decided to give her a chance. Over a decade later, her books (and the movie adaptations) remain highly acclaimed and are arguably among the best stories ever created. Rowling not only brought change to the writing world, but brought joy and hope to children and adults alike all around the world.
I have no memory of the Harry Potter stories not being a part of my life. My family is constantly re-watching the movies and the books are always laying around my house, right along with our wands and Hogwarts house apparel. Even as I write this, my little brother is in the other room watching the third movie. I am sure that I speak for countless others when I say that I am immensely grateful that J.K. Rowling did not lose heart and give up. Just because you are not immediately recognized for what you create does not mean that you should stop creating. Carry on, keep making art for the sake of making art, and one day someone may find your creation and recognize its beauty and meaning.
That is not to say that persisting will be easy nor guarantee a rewarding payoff. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, she explains that if you genuinely love your craft and are passionate about what you are creating, nothing will be able to stop you from pursuing it. Not rejection, not lack of inspiration, not even physical drawbacks. As she eloquently describes it, “Through the mere act of creating something—anything—you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important . . . You might not, on the other hand. But your calling is to make things, then you still have to make things in order to live out your highest creative potential—and also in order to remain sane.” This brings to my mind the classic and incredibly talented composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. He composed and performed music his entire life until he went deaf near the age of forty-six. And yet, the word ‘until’ doesn’t belong in the last sentence because he pressed on. He continued to compose and create some of the most highly-acclaimed classical songs in history. Another example is Vincent van Gogh, who never lived to see his paintings acknowledged and treasured but kept painting amidst all the disapproval that he received for his work.
The stories of creative individuals who have endured immense rejection are endless. But the art that has made it past the rejection and has finally found recognition is all the more beautiful for what it has been through. Take heart, press on, and please—for the sake of the many generations of readers, film lovers, and general art enthusiasts to come—do not give up.