Spare me your encouragement

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Posted 2/16/16 (Tue)

What A Joke
By John Bayer

These days I’m trying to write a novel. I’ve never written one before and I’m worried that I might fail. I need your help to complete it. (More on that later.)
I’ve never seen the movie Titanic. The film is generally considered a modern classic, and it held the spot as highest grossing film of all time for over 20 years.
I was in college when Titanic came out. Upon learning that I had not seen it, one of my classmates told me emphatically, “You HAVE to see it. You have to.” I hate being told what to do. In that moment I vowed that I would never watch this movie. And I never have.
I’m a contrarian by nature. Whatever the prevailing opinion is, I tend to take the opposite view. It comes from being raised in Arizona, I think. We can be a very disagreeable state sometimes. 
Whenever the other states get together to do something, Arizona says “not interested.” For instance, we don’t observe Daylight Saving Time. The state motto is “Shows what you know, buddy.”
My contrariness gets me into trouble. For one thing, I almost wasn’t able to write this column. I blame it on someone telling me I’m a good writer. 
Whenever someone says that, I try to accept and appreciate the compliment. But my subconscious rebels: “You can’t tell me what I am.” Suddenly, I’m struck with a terrible case of writer’s block. Or I find I’m inexplicably depressed. Or tired. Or I have irritable bowel syndrome. Anything to keep me away from the computer. I can’t be a good writer if I never write.
Compliments in general are deadly for me. Recently, I went to the gym two days in a row. A friend said, “good job.” After that heartless compliment I sat on the couch for three days and ate chocolate.
Whenever I tell people I’m trying to write a novel, they say “you can do it.” I’m realizing if I keep getting that kind of encouragement, I’ll never get the book done. 
What I need is for my family, friends, and fans to come alongside me now and tell me how truly awful I am. Let me know I’m wasting my time laboring to string words together. Tell me that I never finish what I start. 
Only then will I be able to muster up the contrary spirit needed to finish the novel, place it in your hands and say, “shows what you know, buddy.”