When I’m feeling particularly lazy, one of my favorite films to watch is Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Made in 2010, it chronicles Joan’s meteoric resurgence several years before her death in 2014 at the age of the age of 81. Joan’s humor could be a bit hard to take. In the 80s and 90s she would viciously attack public figures who were clearly struggling in their personal lives. It can be argued that she was nearly as hard on herself. That said, there are some very funny bits that only she could get away with then and no one could get away with today. I’m not here to defend her work. I am here to praise her work ethic.
In the film you see her, decades after having established herself as an icon, woodshedding her material, hitting the road and playing virtually every opportunity that came her way. She understood her job was to entertain and she took that seriously. At an age when most people are slowing down, Joan was steady. My favorite quote from the entire movie comes from one of her agents who said something along the lines of:
“Joan understood that lightning could strike twice. But for that to happen you have to be standing out in the rain.”
If I’ve learned anything at all it’s that life is a numbers game. The higher the number the greater the odds of success. For a writer, those numbers are pages and submissions. At the end of the day, those are the numbers I keep track of. How many pages do I have? How many submissions have I made? Not all of them are gems. They simply can’t be. The problem is, you don’t know whether the pages are gems until their finished. You don’t know if a submission is going to lead to anything until you make it.
I guess I might say I’ve learned something else.
Say yes until you have to say no.