Ruth Gordon: Deny And Revise

Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, in the 1940s. (Photo courtesy of Photofest.)

I only believe in temporary denial. You know, the kind that gets you home to get your act together and try again. That's a good denial. The kind that helps you finish the audition or the dinner or the job interview or the credit application--the whole time keeping it together, cool and confidant--then you go home and rewrite your whole autobiography and game plan and prepare to take over the world. That's good denial. But I don't believe in denial beyond the period you need to cool down and pep up: I believe in revision. Garson [Kanin] and I both refused to fact the facts. People didn't like a writer or a film, and we both realized they were wrong. We were right, and we trusted that in time other people would join us. And they did! Trust your instincts and trust your taste. It will work out. It has to, if you have talent, and you can't be in denial about that, and you can only revise your talent so much. Listen and see if people believe in you and want you to succeed. Then go out and earn the faith they had in you. Deny and revise. It's a good motto

Ruth Gordon/Interview with James Grissom/1984. From Artistic Suicide


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