Close Enough

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I believe the scientific term is, a crap ton. Being an At Home Dad means lots of driving around and I usually only have kids in the car for one leg of the trip. If any of you remember the old NPR show Car Talk; I think of myself as the Russian chauffeur, Pickup Andropov.

On my way back from dropping a kid at a practice, I was listening to an episode of Hidden Brain. If you don’t know it and you’re at all interested in the workings of the human mind, you should binge listen to as many episodes as you can.

This particular episode was about living vicariously through YouTube DIY videos. The research is fascinating and show that subjects gain a false sense of confidence in their abilities after watching a DIY video. They used moon walking as their test case and, if you care to check out the videos of people attempting a moon walk for the first time, it’s good for a smile. In addition to DIY videos, they addressed armchair quarterbacking in sports. It’s as if we can feel we’ve gained experience just by watching someone perform a complex physical task. We not only know we can carve a wooden spoon from an old board but we could make a friggin’ business out of it.

But it’s not just complex physical tasks and watching videos.

As writers, most of us are also voracious readers. Anyone who reads often and consistently (especially genre fiction) has thought, Crap. I can do better than this. I thought that very thing this week before I listened to the Hidden Brain show.

Now that I’ve been doing this for a couple of years I can see that overconfidence in myself. I’ve got one completed first draft of a novel and another nearly done. I still don’t have a completed work that I’d want anyone to read. The more I write, the more I see the difficulty and can appreciate the time and effort that goes into (in my opinion) crummy scifi and fantasy. I’ve still got a way to go until I feel that I’ve reached the ‘crummy’ tier and I’m not sure I’ll ever reach the level of good.

Recognizing the overconfidence in myself is another brick in my journey. I still don’t know if that brick is part of a path or a wall. I do know that perseverance is the only way I’ll figure it out.

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Trial

Photo by Ian Chen on Unsplash

Whelp. The outline for the novel has weakened and failed. It worked well up to the midpoint and I still know how it ends, but it was structurally unsound in the last third. I think I’ve solved the problems. Maybe.

I’ve hit 80k words and I’ve got a plan to bring all of my threads together in the climax. It looks like it’s going to work out well enough. I’ve been taking notes as I’ve gone with the changes I know I need to make. It should make the (extensive) first and second edits more manageable. Maybe.

It feels like I’ve only got about two weeks of writing left to complete the first draft. Maybe.

I wanted the outline process to not only give me a roadmap but I wanted to make the writing easy. I’ve learned a ton and each book I write is going to make me a better writer. But I’m learning that the writing is never going to be easy.

I know. I know. The pros out there all say it’s never easy no matter how good you get. They sounded a lot like the parents I talked to before I had kids – the most challenging and rewarding thing you’ll ever do. It seems I must experience to understand the words of the experienced.

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