Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sometimes it's not as bad as you imagined

I actually read an article on the internet some time ago about how our anticipated responses to events are often very different than our actual responses--I wish I could remember the details, it seems like it would be nice--right about now...

speaking of things I read that I've lost touch with--there was an article on doodling and how it can actually help you remember--I was thinking about that while listening to some music and editing. But I digress...

Sometimes it's not as bad as you imagine. Once I was working with a writer who was hoping to get re-admitted to his program. The first step was to submit a draft for his thesis (it was all he had left). We worked together to get that draft together. As of the last draft I saw, I thought he was on the right track--he made one revision after I last saw it, and submitted it. One of his professors expressed willingness to accept the draft as thesis, unchanged. Sometimes things are just easier than you would expect.

I had a similar experience recently--but I don't want to tell that story until a little more of it has been written.

Still, it's a nice thing to remember. We often anticipate great difficulty or stress, but it is the anticipation that is the real problem; when the moment arrives, it is not as difficult as we feared.

As writers many of us get paralyzed with fear at the response we might get--"Oh, my advisor doesn't like Marxists, so if I use this theorist I'll get in trouble"--If you let that fear stop you from writing what you believe, then you're in much greater trouble, because it's damn hard to write what you think, and it's even harder to try to write what you think someone else wants you to think. And, it's not as bad as you think: if you have used a theorist carefully and elegantly, even a professor who disagrees with that theorist should be able to see the value in the argument. It's true that there are professors who will not accept work that they don't agree with, but I think it's more often to find professors who will accept work as long as it is of sufficient quality.

If we can tell ourselves "Sometimes it's better than I imagined" or at least "sometimes it's not as bad as I imagined" we can write more effectively.

And that creates opportunity: the chance of something good happening is much greater when you risk that possibility and risk the rejection that goes with it--as the old saying goes: you can't win, if you don't play.

And sometimes even the worst result that you imagined, isn't as bad as you expected: your work gets panned, but maybe you understand why and you see how to move forward from there.

So write. And if you find yourself worrying about some bad outcome, think of the writer I worked with: sometimes they actually like the work that you did. Think about that possibility, and get to work thinking about the work, rather than sitting fearing the worst that is yet to come.

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