Incapussitated, Mark II

An expansion of a post from two years ago, because the subject bears refinement.

Incapussitated (n) The inability to do the thing because there’s a cat in your lap demanding all the attentions.

This word is not in the dictionary, but it should be.  Happens frequently here, and I’d guess elsewhere as well, but then there’s always an excuse not to do the thing, whatever the thing is.  Take this thing, for prime example. I didn’t write anything on the thing for twenty minutes because there was a cat on my lap. Now, technically I could have continued writing despite the constant literal pawing for attention, but I chose to respond to the demands of my fellow living creature instead. Who, it must be known, finally had enough and jumped down to practice its incapussitation elsewhere. Incapussitated (alt. incapurritated), although it doesn’t seem that way at the time, is always a temporary condition.

Unlike blind, crippling self-doubt. Yes, unlike an inconvenient cat, that one is always around. Yes, of course it should help when you know that you’ve done the thing before and very well and can surely do it again. That is, it should help.

And yet….

Also unlike the incapussitating cat, crippling self-doubt never goes away. Hardly for a moment and never completely. In some ways it gets worse, which isn’t really fair. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. When you’re first trying to do the thing, ignorance is your friend and ally. You don’t know you can’t do the thing, any more than you don’t know if you can. That uncertainty works in your favor as a partial antidote to crippling self-doubt because you don’t know, and so neither does crippling self-doubt, and maybe you’re both a bit curious.

So why does it get worse after you’ve actually done the thing? Pausing here to note the obvious point that “the thing” can be anything from writing a short story or novel to learning to play a musical instrument to Calculus. It does not matter what the thing is because there’s always a new thing, and crippling self-doubt right there doing its dead-level best to ruin it for you.

It’s also easier to argue with yourself that a skill was lost rather than never being gained, usually because there’s too much evidence to the contrary. Sure, you did it once—pure luck—but I bet you can’t do it again. Or, sure you’ve done it a hundred times—obviously you’re played out now, just going through the motions, repeating yourself, best quit while you’re ahead, et many a cetera. Crippling self-doubt always has a new act to go with any new thing. After all, it doesn’t have crippling self-doubt to deal with.

If there’s a cure I don’t know what it is, except to just to do the thing anyway, one battle at a time. It isn’t fair. Definitely not right. Not even healthy for one’s mental state. But that’s the way it is.

Allowing for incapussitation, of course

Good Literature Should Taste Good, Too

Chapter4Apparently First Reader is not the only resident who gets to have a say in regards to The War God’s Son. Sheffield the Cat had some incisive (incisors?) commentary on the lead to Chapter 4. You can see his commentary expressed with his usual directness. The green marks are from First Reader. There’s precedent, of course. The late great Early the Cat used to sit in my manuscript boxes, back when hardcopy was everything and I always printed out the day’s progress. I imagine to this day in some of my papers there are manuscripts with calico cat hair between the pages….

Oh right. Present day, if not present tense. As is pretty typical at this stage of the process, for my own part I have an alternating love/hate relationship with the text. Sometimes I just zip through revisions, and at others I can’t stand to look at it. Sometimes I think it’s among the best things I’ve ever done, at others, not so much.  As I said, typical. The jury’s still out with First Reader, though she is quick to point out that my punctuation is atrocious (her word, not mine). I beg to differ. My punctuation is not atrocious. It’s commas, mostly. I think commas should do what I want them to do, and I put them where I darn well want. She says commas do what they are grammatically required to do, belong only where they are required to belong. I think this is a philosophical divide that we may never manage to bridge.

As for Sheffield, he pronounces Chapter 4 “chewy.” Something he can really get his teeth into.