Driving to and from the tasting room last weekend, I heard things that got me thinking and got me happy, and I wanted to share them with you.
First, I heard a TED Radio Hour segment about rejection therapy, which made me think of the “100 rejections a year” goal. From a poetry perspective, Jia Jiang’s rejection therapy was more like submitting–after all, he did get quite a few acceptances, even though he was trying, deliberately asking for things he had little chance of getting.
Thinking about rejection led me to think about failure–the Samuel Beckett quote but also another TED talk about learning science–or learning anything, or revising a poem! although Mark Rober doesn’t mention that. Rober does point out that when something is hard, or we don’t get it (or, extrapolating, we get rejected), it’s easy to think we just aren’t good at it. Then he compares this despair (my word) with playing video games. Full disclosure: I’m not a gamer unless you count computer spider solitaire, but I’m willing to go with this. When you crash or die the first time in a video game, you don’t give up. Instead, you evaluate what you could do differently the next time, and you try again. Failure as challenge.
As I sit down to continue revising poems, I’m trying to imagine that joy of exploration, of trying and trying and trying just to see what might work better.
But first, in closing, I want to share the most inspirational piece I heard, bringing together failure as not failure, failure as play, some cool lyrical moves and turns and returns, and above all, a great generosity of joy: Amanda Palmer’s Ukulele Anthem. Give it a listen. And go play!