Close Enough

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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