The emotional trauma of failure

Well, I have spent most of the day holed up, wishing I was a mouse, and I could crawl in my little hole and cover the door and hide.

It’s been about three years, in a creative realm, where i’ve had something affect me with this much trauma.

We were to shoot background for a music video yesterday. The project went splat! Not enough people showed to accomplish the project. The 3 or 4 who did show…I felt so terrible for having wasted their time. I sat there for three hours, hoping people would show, so we could shoot video, but wow…with the passing of time, I grew more and more agitated. I am an actor by trade, and producing/directing is very much about utilizing your acting skills, even if you are behind the camera. But, there is a point when the agitation and worry become so prevalent, you can’t “act” thru it. I have no idea if I became sooo smoldering and full of tension that no one wanted to be around me, but (by the end) it sure seemed like people were leaving me alone.

I know I wasn’t yelling or misbehaving. But still…while everyone else was goofing around and joking and telling stories, that mask of “fragile” smile I was wearing, grew brittle.

I had worried that this might happen. I knew it was possible.  I should have been mentally prepared for it, and the way I’d react to it. But, it has rocked me sideways.

How do you define failure? That day’s shooting was a failure. But it doesn’t mean the project is a failure. How do you recover from this and salvage the project? [And…when you feel so low, how do you keep from feeling that you, personally, are a failure? It’s hard to separate the human from the work. Just because I failed at a project, doesn’t mean I am a failure. Telling myself that is one thing…but wow….you all know what this feels like!]

All producers, of all types of genres go thru this–when the shoot doesn’t go as planned, and you have to replan and regroup.

It made me think of the story I had read where William H. Macy talks about an experience making Boogie Nights.

If you are in this game, you’re gonna screw up. You’re gonna fail. Not all the time, and (hopefully) not often, but it’s gonna happen.

Intellectually, I know this. But, when it happens…when you bomb! I need to figure out how to shake this off. The last thing that was this traumatic to me, in the realm of show business, was a failed audition as a singer/dancer in Branson. That was about three years ago…so I’ve been lucky that things in the meantime have been much smoother.

I’ve auditioned lots of places, (just as I’ve produced video and live shows), but sometimes, when least expected, something gets under your skin and just whammies you!

Then you’ve got to find a way to crawl out of your turtle shell and try again.

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