Outsourcing decisions

About a month ago, I was amazingly sick for a long time, and I found myself in a strange situation where I understood that I was operating at some fraction of normal intelligence, sick, with people disagreeing with me. My hazy plan, despite repeatedly feeling light-headed, was to stumble back on a ferry, get to Seattle, reconsider a plan of action, most likely taking a bus to get home.

People around me, though, strenuously disagreed, and felt I should go to the hospital, and I had to make a really strange decision: am I thinking straight? Trying to make that decision, of course, meant a contradiction, namely:
– if yes, then my original plan’s entirely valid
– if no, then my original plan’s a bad idea, but then how can I be trusted to evaluate whether I’m thinking straight or not?

I decided to stop thinking about that and take advice, which meant I went to the hospital for a while, felt a lot better, and went home.

I had a similar experience deciding to go to Clarion West this June. I didn’t really expect to get in, and when they called, I had a whole set of problems:
– no money
– accepting meant I had ~two months and then would be gone for six weeks, so no one in their right mind would hire me
– standard problems being away for six weeks

I didn’t know what to do for a while, and I agonized over whether I should go or not, whether it would be awesome or not, if I could go in future years, if it would be worth the sacrifice of taking a promising job, and so on. I was looking, a little bit, for a set of justifications for not going.

In the end, what swayed me was other people: when I talked to my friends about it, they told me to go and volunteered to loan me the money. Once, I think I might have shrugged it off, but when a lot of the people who really knew me lined up for it had the same reaction, I had to step back and think “Am I really acting rationally, or am I so tied up in the situation that I’m unable to look at the whole?”

Once I made the decision, I feel great about it, even though it meant walking away from job possibilities I was really interested in. And I don’t think, if I hadn’t placed my trust in the judgment of a bunch of people I didn’t know when I was really sick, that I’d have so quickly said “as conflicted as I am, the universal view of others is to go, and to do what I have to do to go, so I’m going to take that course”. It’s been a strangely-won piece of wisdom.

Not that I’m going to let reddit users vote up or down on my meal choices.

5 thoughts on “Outsourcing decisions

  1. Scraps

    Man, I am delighted that you decided to go. (Not that I imagine my opinion had anything to do with it, obviously; I’m just happy on your behalf.)

    If you feel like it, tell Patrick that Scraps says hi. He and Teresa are just about my oldest friends in the world. I envy you getting to have Delany as an instructor; when I first came to New York more than twenty years ago, I was his personal assistant for a few months, and he was the smartest and mst interesting person I’ve ever had the privilege of conversing with.

  2. kenshin

    Congrats again! From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like you are making a good decision.

  3. Shannon

    Congratulations! I read you guys a lot at USSM and I just clicked over here to check out what you statheads do personally 🙂 I’m a writer too and I know how hard it is to get into high-profile programs and workshops. You’re so lucky to have a lot of people specializing in your genre right here in Seattle.

    I took a spec. fic. writing class at WSU two years ago as part of my creative writing requirements and I thought I was going to hate it because I didn’t read either science fiction or fantasy. Of course I ended up really enjoying it because that’s usually what happens when you go into something thinking you’ll hate it. We spent several weeks talking to Lance Olsen through his online forum and read a lot of his stuff. I don’t know if you’ve read any of it but I’d recommend him. He takes a lot of risks and there’s a lot of humor in his pieces.

    Good luck with the workshop. I’ll be interested to read a follow-up once you’ve finished the program.

  4. marbledog

    And had you not gone to the hospital, you would have deprived me of one of the more bizarre mornings of my recent life!

  5. PositivePaul

    Nothin’ better than good, true friends to help ya keep your head screwed on straight. And a good wife to do the same, too. Glad to know you have both!

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