I have competing voices in my head. One of them sounds like this: "You can be as successful as you dream with your music. You can and will make a living with your craft; your songs will be played on the radio and in the movies; You're good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you." I find having Stuart Smalley as an internal guide is helpful. At least as far as self esteem goes.
The other voice is the counterpoint, and sounds like this: "Music is a nice hobby. You've written some good songs, had a good run, but the odds of you making it are slim to none. You are too old, not a good enough writer, and seeing as how there are some thirteen billion really good singer songwriters on the planet, well, don't quit your day job."
I hear the former voice when I'm centered, feeling clear, eating well, reading something inspirational, or exercising regularly. Or when I've just played a really good show at a nice venue. I hear the other voice when I'm stressed, overwhelmed, tired, hungry, or played another coffeehouse gig for 3 people.
On one hand, it's always easier to give up and give in to the inertia of being sedentary. It's easier to watch TV than to work at writing a song; it's easier to sleep in than to exercise. And it's certainly easier to stop putting energy into booking gigs than it is to hear 8 "No's" for every "Yes."
Yet every time I get rejected by a venue, artist, or booking agent, I try to use it as a gut check, a test to my resolve. It begs the questions, "How serious am I about attaining my goals, and how much am I willing to endure to get there?"
Because on the other hand, to give up on what I think about and dream about the most propels me into an alternate universe that feels very disconcerting.
When I find myself listening to the internalized "small" voice, the one that begs me to give it up, I remember those who have gone before: Sly Stallone was rejected 1,500 times before Rocky was picked up. Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Babe Ruth also led the league in strikeouts.
And I trudge on, preparing to book more shows, make more albums, write more songs, and hear many more "No's" along the way.