Sunday, May 17, 2015

What To Do With a Rejection Letter

In Stephen Bishop’s guest bathroom, there is a framed rejection letter from Apple Records, saying that they found his compositions “unsuitable” for their catalog.

When you exit the bathroom and walk down the hall, however, you’ll see this -- walls lined with gold records that followed in the years after that rejection letter, as well as Grammy nominations, and an Oscar nomination for his song Separate Lives (performed by Phil Collins). Stephen has performed on Saturday Night Live, the Midnight Special, and in concerts around the world. In addition to his own top hits with “On and On” and “Save it For A Rainy Day” (with Chaka Kahn) his songs have been performed by Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Barbra Streisand, Art Garfunkel, Steve Perry, Stephanie Mills, Kenny Loggins, Johnny Mathis, Phoebe Snow, David Crosby, The Four Tops, and Pavarotti. Apparently, his music was more than suitable.

I love that he framed this rejection letter for all his guests to see. It made me want to do the same. Last week my book Fire Season received an ugly, negative review on Amazon. Inspired by Stephen,  I posted it on facebook for all to see. (Maybe I'll frame it, too.) Having just been in Bish's bathroom, I  decided to laugh these negative words off. Just because someone doesn’t understand your art, your music, your writing -- doesn’t mean your work has no value.

When I first started sending Fire Season out, my own agent, at that time, passed on it. “It’s not a universal story. People won’t relate to it,” she said.
Another agent said, “No one reads memoir. Memoir doesn’t sell.”
A publisher said, “You’re not a celebrity, we can’t take a risk on it. Good luck, though.”

Just think, if every artist, writer, painter, poet, musician, inventor, comic, etc. listened to the voices of the “critics,” there would be no art in the world. No music. No books.

I believe every one of us should do our art, whatever form it takes. Write. Paint. Act. Invent. Brainstorm. Build. People will tell you it’s impractical, and a waste of money. People might think you are crazy, lazy, or irresponsible. You might even say these things to yourself (the inner critic is the worst). Do your art anyway. Do it, because it’s in you and no one else can do it like you can. Do it for no other reason than the joy of doing it. Do it, because in spite of the critics (who are most likely frustrated artists lashing out at others), the world needs your unique fingerprint.

Frame your rejections, and put them on the wall. I agree with Stephen, a bathroom is the most suitable place to hang it.

For Fun: Here are some rejection letters received by very famous, very successful artists:

Stephen Bishop is still writing amazing songs. Find them here: 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Love and Miracles

March was the month from hell. It really was. I started to backslide into old negative belief patterns that I was unlucky, that this was my fate – had always been my fate, that bad things just randomly happen to me, etc…But then I stopped myself and said, “No, that is an old story. The new story is that I am open to love and miracles.” Even though I did not really believe this, I wrote it out, and posted it on my bathroom mirror. I looked at it and recited it to myself every day, until I started to feel it. All I can say is that if you make a commitment like this to yourself, buckle up.

April has been my month of dreams coming true. My book release events, both in Phoenix and at Barnes and Noble in L.A., were beautiful and meaningful. That same week I got to sing in a concert for my friend Jeff Jones, standing behind rock legends. I attended/spoke at four fancy gala events including Women Against Gun Violence  and The American Red Cross. My friend Amy said to me yesterday, “I’m exhausted from following you on facebook this month.” I laughed and said, “How do you think I feel? I’ve been in Spanx and heels for a month!”

Recently a facebook friend posted that she wouldn’t post any more pictures from her trip to paradise because she didn’t want to be obnoxious, and I said- PLEASE KEEP POSTING. Yes, there are people suffering terrible losses, losing jobs, reeling from depression. But for me, when I am down and I see people posting about wonderful times, it reminds me what is possible, for all of us. I find it so encouraging.

I posted a lot about my shitty month in March -- the funerals, the flood, the bugs, the ER trip --but I also wanted to post about all the good things, and hopefully it isn’t annoying or obnoxious to anyone, because my intent is to remind myself, and hopefully remind my friends who are suffering, that good times lie ahead, even when you can’t possibly imagine them.

I have lived through my Fire Season. I have walked through my dark night of the soul, and I know when you are there, how hard it is to find even the tiniest spark of light. If you are in a dark valley of your life, I ask you to open yourself to LOVE and MIRACLES. Repeat it to yourself even when you don’t believe it. Look for it every day, and notice the tiniest gifts…a bird on your windowsill, a rainbow, a meaningful song on the radio. Those are your stepping stones out of darkness. Open your heart to love and all the goodness life has to offer. Receive it with open arms when it comes…

Love and miracles beyond your wildest imaginings are in your future. Believe it. 

Here is something I never could have imagined years ago, when I was depressed and suicidal and wondering why I even existed.

Dreams Come True...singing backgrounds with Howard Jones, while raising money for my sick friend Jeff: