Rendered Fat Content


Adélaïde Labille-Guiard:
Portrait of Dublin-Tornelle (c. 1799)

"How could any of us ever experience the considerable benefits of our doubts if we've smothered them with our Confidence first?"

Confidence proves neither necessary nor sufficient to support any creative endeavor. It more often undermines an artist, who might find himself better served by slathering himself in criticism or doubt, for Confidence accentuates the positive at the onerous cost of other perspectives. It too easily evolves into studied self-deception, unshakable notions, and devotion to lesser Gods who grant unearned permissions and the pursuit of unwarranted commissions. One too easily falls into playing the Confidence Man, so practiced at self-deception that deception becomes first nature, trading in hollow and narrow platitudes, knowing for certain what nobody could ever know for sure, selling soap and Bibles.

The Confident author might not be worth reading other than as an example of what one should avoid reading.
He freely offers advice for the price of distraction masquerading as focus. He will speak of an us that never once existed and speak for others without ever first having asked their permission. They produce stunning acts of omission, profound proclamations lacking human frailty: limitless unconditionals, and riskless rewards. Their work appears two-dimensional, lacking depth, lacking emotion. It feareth not and thereby should scare the living Hell out of every reader. But, curiously, it doesn't. It instead induces hellacious results without leaving discernable fingerprints. Perpetratorless pergatories.

I have tried to remain honest with myself that my Publishing endeavor, this Publishing endeavor, amounts to my poking sticks into darkness. I started, as always, misinformed, supported by fantasies and prejudices, mere notions of the topography I faced. I had avoided reading any of the many books published on the subject of Publishing, for they seemed to exude entirely too much Confidence for my taste, as if their author(s) had somehow accumulated more knowledge about a domain than ever very likely existed. The domain seemed profoundly suspect, for there couldn't possibly "be" a Publishing industry other than a fuzzy conglomeration of preconceived notions. Its pieces hardly acknowledge each other's existence and shouldn't.

When I started this series, I took a hard look at a lesson I'd absorbed when writing my best seller. When I wrote that introduction, which, of course, I wrote after the rest of the work was finished, I watched myself acknowledge the profound influence my near absolute lack of self-confidence had produced, for I had not once set to writing even a single paragraph supported by any belief that the result might somehow prove good enough. The entire undertaking was gratefully much less certain. I was actively speculating. I was writing a book about managing projects which, in the first few paragraphs, insisted that it would not attempt to tell the reader how to better manage their projects. How could I have possessed that knowledge? How could anyone have? I would have had to have been omniscient to have convinced myself that I knew better than the thousands of actual practitioners I knew were wrestling with essentially unresolvable conditions, just like I had been and was. Confidence in myself to offer such advice would have had to have been misplaced.

I have turned out to be the type of writer who has not embraced the notion that I should be trying to make this world better since that amounts to a self-defeating Utopian notion. This world does not need to be better than it is and probably needs to be no better than it might already have been if only we could stop trying to convince each other that we might somehow make it better, alone or together. First, the ancient advice suggested accepting the world as it is, then working outward and inward from there. Working to improve the place presumes knowledge not evident by any means other than Confidence. Better that we carry our doubts a tad closer to the surface and discover good and decent means for continuing our efforts anyway. How could we ever experience the considerable benefits of our doubts if we've smothered them with our Confidence first?

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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