It’s been a somewhat hard-knock life this week in the aftermath of a grant rejection. Rejections aren’t that surprising, or uncommon, but they do knock your ego, even if just a smidge and just for a moment. So I’ve been reflecting on what I wrote in response to a gorgeous friend’s blog (http://www.thatspaceinbetween.com/the-blog/) and how you carry on when all you want to do is throw said [insert rejecting thing here] in the river and walk away from it all. Move to a windswept cottage on an Irish coast with a roaring fire and spend the rest of your days writing. You know, just as a hypothetical.
It’s this strange, naked thing to be a researcher sometimes, and I imagine this nudity is inhabited by anyone who offers their work up for public consumption and acceptance. There’s a vulnerability in offering something up you’ve brought to creative life. And research has always been a creative outlet in a strange way with me – I’m imagining the sighs emanating from my lovely quantitative and scientific colleagues right now, but that’s always how it’s sat with me. Research is about finding something that may not have been found before, or not seen in the same way before. You’re bringing together literature, findings (in whatever form they take), and your way of doing and writing and being. And that’s always felt creative.
And the creative has not always come easily. It’s more often than not – far more often than not – damn hard work. I’ve always loved reading about how other writers write – to know that words that flow so effortlessly on a page were the product of sweat and blood. Sylvia Plath who always had a thesaurus with her as a way to constantly find the most beautiful, perfect fitting words. F Scott Fitzgerald who wrote draft after draft after draft of his novels. There’s something calming in knowing that other writers have stared at a blank page frozen and uncertain…
Maybe that’s why rejection can be so heartbreaking. In my head, criticism is easier to manage as there’s a get-out-of-jail card, there’s a way to fix it. Sometimes, maybe. But rejection just sits there, leaving you without a way out. It’s a hard space to sit peacefully in.
So I have embraced the words of two amazing writers – once again and always – to pick myself up and start again.
The hopeful despair (despairing hope) of Samuel Beckett who wrote: Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
And Elizabeth Gilbert whose TED talk on the failing makes me feel better in mine: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_success_failure_and_the_drive_to_keep_creating?language=en
My mantras and my songs right now…
How do you find your way back to start again after rejection?