True artists have their D.N.A. imprinted on their masterworks. You can recognize the work of a master painter immediately. Same with a writer. Rare are unique voices -- distinct and resonating -- in any artistic field.
The average pro screenwriter has a career of 3-5 years. Read that some time ago and wondered, "Why?" Because most in any artistic field are echos. They copy the fad of the day and enjoy a brief bit of popularity before fading out. Or the energy to sustain their unique voice consumes then and they have brief, yet brilliant, careers.
The first dozen screenplays you write will likely not be that good. The first few you'll finish and think they are ready to shop and give you quick success. After fighting through script after script, you can reflect back and realize how you were fighting through your influences and notions of what's "commercial" and can get attention. You have to burn out the dross before you develop your craft to a professional level.
There are exceptions: Artists who have early work that meets with success. Yet they have difficulty sustaining this because they haven't put in the hours and paid the dues necessary. A previous blog discussed the 10,000 hours necessary to master any subject. Better to put those hours in before success comes your way.
Success can be viewed as the residue of past failures. By the time acclaim or a sale comes your way, you're miles ahead working on new things and pushing to develop your talent. The book THE WAR OF ART by Pressfield is one I recommend frequently. Be in for the long haul. Show up. Continue showing up.
Another year nearing conclusion, I can see how far I've developed as a writer and how far the road is ahead. Become a voice. Work your way through the mediocre ideas and echos. Be a professional.
Happy Holidays and here's to a great 2011!
One year to go before the world ends. Make the best of it...