Being a writer's a tough gig. Okay, no, wait: Being a published writer is a tough gig. It's the difference between sitting around in your house and playing guitar merely for your own pleasure – or, maybe, the pleasure of a few friends – and playing on stage in front of an audience. An audience which may or may not have actual people in it and an audience which may or may not even be listening. So you go up on stage and play your heart out and no one responds and you don't really have any idea of how good you were. It's a tough gig.
Because it's so tough, we've come up with little lies to tell ourselves to make the seeming rejection less hurtful, and these lies would be okay if we only told them to ourselves. The problem is that once we've told them to ourselves, we start telling them to each other and, when we start telling them to each other, we inevitably tell them to people who are just starting out, and those lies can really cause problems for people who think they're hearing the truth from people who ought to know it. Then they believe the lies, too.
And that's the real problem: People don't think they're lies. They believe they're telling each other the truth, but it's the same as believing that the world is flat or that man never walked on the moon. Or, you know, that climate change isn't happening. So you have people that mean well, they really do, who are telling people, “Hey, you can't sail your ship off in that direction, because you'll fall off the edge of the world.” Just because you believe it doesn't make it true.
So let's talk a little math and science before we go on.
If you think back to your days in geometry, you might remember these things called postulates. In case you don't, I'll remind you. A postulate is something, in an argument (or a math problem), that we accept as a given. Basically, it is something that is so basic that there is no way to prove it so we just accept it as fact. The classic example is a = a. It's pretty clear that that is true, but, mathematically, there's no way to prove it. It's like using a word to define itself.
[Which reminds me of a funny story. This one time at a “Chinese” restaurant (I say “Chinese” because, clearly, this was not just Chinese) with some friends and my brother, my brother wanted to know what curry is (because they had curry chicken, and he'd never seen curry chicken at a Chinese place), so he asked the waiter, “What's curry?” First, that question confused the waiter. I mean, it confused the waiter a lot. We spent more than a few minutes just explaining the question. Finally, once he understood that my brother wanted to know what curry is, he responded, “Curry is curry!” That's the best answer we could get from him. The only answer. a = a. It was less than helpful.]
The thing that's so insidious about these lies is that we approach them as if they are postulates. Or, to use another word, we treat them as axioms. Un-disputable facts. (Look, I know the word is “indisputable,” but that doesn't really convey the same meaning. I'll use the prefixes the way I want to use them, okay? Okay.) This <thing> is so true that all I need to do is state it and you have to accept it. Period. “The Earth is flat.” Don't look at me like that; for centuries, that fact was indisputable.
The truth is, most of these things are more like hypotheses. And there's your science lesson. A hypothesis is an idea that is then subject to experimentation. The problem with these lies, even as hypotheses, is that they have already been disproven. It's like the Church choosing to cling to the belief that the Earth was the center of the universe even after Copernicus and Galileo had shown that it wasn't. Or like Republicans continually stating that climate change isn't happening (okay, fine, I know this is a non-partisan blog, and I know it's not all Republicans, but give me a break).
So, now that you've had your introduction, next week we'll actually talk about some lies.