Thursday, April 19, 2012

On Coolness

People like to be liked. It is very validating for people to appreciate and applaud the things you do. But, how does one do it? How do we become cool?

I am no guru or mystical Fonzie, but I am a thoughtful person who has spent time on both sides of the table. So these are my findings.

It's easy for people to say to just act natural, to just not worry about it, but that's not the whole story. If acting natural was all it took, they wouldn't be uncool in the first place. For some people, it does come naturally. For others, they have practiced it so much that they forgot how they did it in the first place. And for everyone else, they don't know how to take the first step.

The first step actually is to not worry about it. Fear is a bastardly monster (and a monstrous bastard). It will ruin any steps forward you take, either by tainting all your words (we can sense fear and hate it) or by tainting your own mind and making you think that you haven't made any progress when you have. Some people to the not worrying step even further by creating a sense of contempt for others. If they think less of other people, then certainly those people's opinions of you mean nothing.

There's a classic Mark Twain quote that starts out, "Dance like nobody's watching." That is a major aspect of coolness. People who have the confidence in themselves to let loose and the disregard for others' opinions to not worry about is the epitome of the mentality of coolness, but it's not the whole story.

Losers aren't cool. Dancing like nobody's watching is great, but if you are just horrible at dancing, you're gonna be insulted or laughed at. If you do something that is weird or non-standard, there will be some jeers and funny looks, but if you do that thing flawlessly, it will be cool.

I love the band Muse. I love all their sounds, all their songs, etc. But sometimes I hear the lead singer's voice and I can't believe that it is a guy who is way up in the range usually reserved for women. When did anybody think guys singing in falsetto was cool? But he is cool. He is a fantastic musician and his singing, although non-standard, is flawless. And the fact that he is amazing at what he does and that he doesn't care about doing it with all his heart makes him cool.

Writing is a harsh field. Everybody thinks they can do it and most people who want to comment on your work think you suck. Well, if they have legitimate reasons why they think so, then find out and fix those problems on the next draft (assuming you agree with the criticisms). And if they can't defend their position, then you have nothing to worry about.

Write the best thing you can. If you have done so, and you are confident that it is certifiably good, then it's cool. Some people will still hate it, but that's ok. Haters gonna hate.

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