You’ve probably seen this Ira Glass quote floating around the social medias. It’s hardly an overstatement when I say it’s become my emotional life raft in the rough seas of fiction writing.
But I think it’s worth talking about how truly diarrhea-inducing it is to take his advice. I’ve been a copywriter in the branding world for nearly a decade now. I don’t wanna toot my own tagline here, but I’m kinda good at it. I’ve earned my 10,000+ hours as a wordsmith and as a reader. I know great prose when I see it.
Which is how I know just exactly how bad I suck at this.
My fiction is a baby doe in headlights.
It’s wobbly, ill-paced, occasionally confused, and above all, amateur.
And it’s the best I can do right now. Which is so much less than I aspire to.
I am a sphincter-clenching perfectionist. I’m also one of those people who tends to be pretty good at most things without trying so very hard (so long as those things don’t involve the spherical objects people throw back and forth to each other). Thirdly, I am allergic to help. Asking for it gives me hives. (I am also a hypochondriac. Perhaps you’ve noticed?)
I guess I expected at least some of my copywriting cred to transfer to a different genre. Instead, I’ve just gotten used to feeling like an idiot. Every 7 am at my desk, I’m all: Good morning, Idiot. Get to work.
My friend Mark informed me that what I’m experiencing is Conscious Incompetence. This is basically the psychologist nerd’s version of Ira Glass’s advice, but better, because it has ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS.
unconscious incompetence - ignorance is bliss
conscious incompetence - good morning idiot, get to work
conscious competence - heyyy not bad (bummer about that hemorrhoid)
unconscious competence - Salman Rushdie!
So the theory goes, if I don’t give up, I will eventually get the hang of it. And some time after that, I might even get good.
As for why I insist on putting said baby doe prose on the internet for all the world to see, maybe I’m like those people I just learned about on kink.com who get off on being disgraced in public. I don’t know. But this Rube Goldberg of a website not only forces me to practice writing; it forces me to confront those two other pesky personality traits: that I’m not perfect. And that I need help.
So thanks for sticking with me, and for encouraging, supporting and truly, TRULY! helping me with your views and votes and comments. You really are writing this thing, because without you, it probably wouldn’t get written at all.
As a rule, I hate heartfelt, heartwarming endings to things (SPOILER ALERT), so I leave you with this. It’s entirely unrelated (and very NSFW), but filled with universal truths.