How To Succeed At Failing

If I was a tree, what kind of tree would I be?

Answer: Lemon. Because that is what my life is full of right now. Lemons. So many speed bumps have begun to line the serene suburban street that is my life’s path that I am THIS close to quietly exiting my car, grabbing a baseball bat from the trunk and bashing in every single window of my vehicle. THIS close! I swear to God!

I know what you’re saying. “Keith, why don’t you just make lemonade? Or a lemon meringue pie? Or lemon cookies in the shape of the sun and spend an afternoon frosting the cookies with yellow icing and black happy faces?” “And these are all good ideas,” is how I would respond. But these aren’t real lemons that life is handing me cause that would be sweet (or sour?). No, these are figurative lemons. And they’re really getting my goat…and puckering up his cute little goat face.

Artistically is where these lemony life punches to the gut are being thrown. And they are fucking killing me. It started with a bad review in the Chicago Reader and then a string of stand-up shows got canceled on me and then I got rejected for a show I auditioned for and then a play I wrote got rejected and then now I found out my sketch group might be no more. It’s all a lot for me to take, and part of me can’t help but to take it personally. Did I anger the muses? Were they watching me when I thought I was alone? Touching myself? To images of vegetables that look like genitals? Male genitals? But they are really vegetables! So there’s really nothing wrong with it is there. Is there? I mean looking at pictures of gourds and squash is as innocent as looking at pictures of puppies and kittens, at least by community standards…right? I’m not on trial!!!

Anyway, I may have indeed angered those prudish muses. Maybe it was when I declared that I was stepping away from the stage indefinitely to really hunker down and pursue writing as an art and a career. Maybe when I said I was retiring from my short but noble stint as a stand-up comedian. Maybe when I dropped out of nearly every improv program in the city because I don’t have the patience to dedicate so much time and money to pretending to open a door or wash a dish or hit on my sister. I thought focusing on writing was a step in the right direction for me. Don’t get me wrong. I greatly respect performers of all kinds: musicians, comedians, drag queens, etc. But the spotlight just isn’t for me. As much as I enjoy the attention and the instant gratification, I’m too neurotic for the stage and too uncomfortable in my own body to really use it as an artistic instrument. No, I’m best lumping symbols into words and words into sentences and so forth. You know, filling up all that white space with black stuff. Cause people say I got a voice that comes through in my writing. And maybe that is so. Can you hear it? Can you? Hello! La la la la. Strange how there’s no echo…

So these artistic speed bumps, these lemons, they’ve got me down. I feel a bit like a failure. But I’m going to do what I always do and say fuck it. I’m going to brush myself off and move forward. I got a monthly reading series I’m producing come November, and I have some plays and sketches I still want to work on, which I can self produce. Yeah, it’s tough going at it alone, not having a comedy partner or a group to fall back on, but that’s the way it is through most of life. You got your shit…it’s your shit…and so you have to deal with it. No one else is going to deal with your shit. I mean, it’s shit!

Let’s hope something I do works out soon cause I don’t think the whole “misunderstood artist” thing is really becoming.

I'm so emo!

I'm so emo!

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4 responses to “How To Succeed At Failing

  1. But Keith, why don’t you just think of the cute little puckered up goat face? That will make you happy.

    And remember, just because you get rejections doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do. You can’t expect to please everyone all the time, so just keep doing what you do. Except for feeling sorry for yourself. Stop that.

  2. Emily is right. Maybe “misunderstood artist” isn’t becoming, but humility is. Politics and their relation to art just plain sucks and unfortunately there’s no way around it. Just think about what you can control. I don’t know anybody that works harder for what they want than you do. I don’t worry about you accomplishing anything. It just doesn’t always happen as fast as you’d like it to. Oh I hate ending so many sentences with prepositions. I’ll stop now.

  3. You put a funny spin even on rejection. Thank you for the post and sharing your work through the rejection.

  4. oh keith — love this — I feel ya through and through — but as my therapist says: you have to trust that the universe has things in store for you that are better than what you think you wanted — but then again, I’ve never really seen the lady’s credentials…

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