#SelfDoubt vs #SelfConsciousness

There’s this actor, maybe you’ve heard of him, a fella by the name of Tom Hanks.

Mr. Hanks has been in a fair number of films, he’s produced some, he’s directed some. My personal favorite of his movies is the one pictured above, Cast Away, and it was my favorite movie of all time for a long time. I still watch it about once a month; it helps me process loneliness back in solitude and gratitude when I need to.

Cast Away did not make Tom look glamorous. Hanks’s character (and to play the character you have to look the part) started off the story overweight and a control freak of time (which he tries to explain to the Russians, if you want irony in 2017); by the end of the story he is shaggy and rail thin, no longer a lover of seafood, grateful for something as small as a Swiss Army knife, and someone in awe of time and fate. There are now a lot of photos and memes of this film on the web and social media of Hanks looking nearly gross; ain’t nothing gorgeous in it.

For the past three years Hanks has also been working on a collection of short fiction for publication. The work isn’t necessarily Pulitzer-worthy, but it’s entertaining and touching in some places; one short story is so funny it took me about two hours to read it. Shortly after I finished the book I looked for media supplements on the book; this task was a bit of a struggle because the book was released right before the release of Hanks in the film The Post, and most interviews involve the book for about 30 seconds and the film for about 12 minutes. But there was an interview filmed for The New York Times, on their program Times Talks, where Hanks was interviewed primarily about the book and answered questions from social media and the audience.

One question asked Hanks how he overcomes self-doubt. The question was ambiguous enough to apply to any career in creative work, and Hanks answered as though it applied to his acting, since that was the creative work most folks knew him for. His belief is that self-doubt is the same as self-consciousness; get rid of both and you can create. Sometimes the role requires that you look ridiculous or that you do something you don’t want to do to play the role because there might be a picture of it later…you have dispense of that. You have to make the mistakes and trust the process, he explained.

Just before I read the Hanks book I read another book, Sourdough, by Robin Sloan, that took me to the same place as Hanks’s thoughts on creative process. In the book the main character of Lois has to deal with Silicon Valley hipsters who are too cool for school in product development and nutrition; she also has to deal with analog purist foodies who think that anything high-tech is a fad or corruption. Lois, from the Midwest and feeling far from cosmopolitan, finds joy from simple food and makes mistakes in learning to cook and bake, not to mention making lots of mistakes in marrying tech and life hacks in that cooking and baking. Lois looks silly a lot. Lois is nowhere near glamorous.

Yet, in the reading of Sloan’s book and Hanks’s book and his interview, I feel like I’ve got a standard to move toward. Make mistakes, Jo; so I go back to cooking myself, making messes. I pull out the baseball novel I was working on and botch it up or improve it for one of my writing sessions; I do the same with sessions devoted to other writings. I very well may be making all kinds of mistakes right now in this blog post. I think that’s the place where the best stuff comes from, and I’ll continue to do so. ✨


And so I return from my adventures.

Sounds like something the ancients or Tolkien would have written.  Quotes about wandering, drifting into references in Oz, on what we wanted was here all along.

I spent the month of March and the first week of April getting acclimated to a change of residence; same sorry town, just on the other side of a body of water.  There are more options for sidewalks on this side of the water, but also a more industrialized/commercialized look.  In other words, we went from living in a frat house to living in a mall.  This side, so far, is greener, and the living space is cooler.  I had missed green around me something awful, so I’m grateful for that, and this space is quieter.  And yet, it’s still miles from anywhere, the opposite of a cafe culture.  But I’m acclimating as best I can until the next tide comes in.

Until that tide…I’m working on the novel again and preparing for a brief shore leave north.

Speaking of tides…in general, what’s your level of optimism?  Mine has developed into belligerent shading of the word.  I’m not a Pollyanna, but I’ve nearly had it with “you can’t fight City Hall” or, as Lorde likes to sing, “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air/So there.”  (Yes, I know, she meant something else, but it seems to fit.)  Strangely enough, if left alone to solitude in the realm of meet-space, my mother’s inheritance wins over and I can be as optimistic as Pooh Bear and Piglet, but if you put me with comp’ny I’ll shut down into silence or drift into my father’s Eeyore-ism.  I can’t be brave in the face of shoulder-chip wearers.

Until this week.  These things can happen if you’re tired of being the scapegoat at work, tired of settling for what your age and your station seem to determine for everyone else, and now I’m just stubbornly optimistic.  It’s a revolt on my part.  If someone else proves more optimistic, or uplifting, I’ll defer them the title.

A very happy Saturday to you, then.