Guessing Wrong on Jeopardy

I’m always shouting out answers to the television like I need the money, like I’ll get the money. I do it when I’m not paying attention, if I hear a word that makes me think of another word. I think it’s good practice – if I can play Jeopardy while typing this blog post, then when I really try to play Jeopardy, or really try to write a blog post, I’ll be a wiz.

I don’t know what inhibition gene is missing in my head but I find it hard not to guess at Jeopardy answers. It’s the same way when I know some misinformation about a topic of conversation being discussed, the same as when I read the headline of an article then try to tell the story. I think that knowing a little bit of everything makes me smart. It really doesn’t. Guessing things that sound like fourteen-letter words starting with O doesn’t make me smart. I don’t even feel smart when I guess “what is invisibility” to a Jeopardy answer about the power of Harry Potter’s cloak. It’s simply that the thing I said out loud at that moment was the correct answer.


(from Bibliophilopolis blog)

I do the same thing when I write: I let my inhibitions go. I’ve subscribed entirely to Hemingway’s shit draft theory, so much that I’ve forgotten there’s a point where he must have gotten past that. I’ve actually forgotten how to write essays, though I did it for four years. I wrote three essays for school lately before realizing that I used to make outlines for these, that this process actually helps my writing. Before I realized that the solution to everything isn’t shouting out wrong answers without reserve. There is something in waiting for the right moment.

The current state of my novel is a fifth-generation verbal diarrhea. I am filling in gaps (gaps I identify in alarming CAPS LOCKS: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? SLOW DOWN!!) with paragraphs of anything that comes to mind. I hope a later-me, a modified, mature me, looks back at these new paragraphs, and the ones that remain from before, and is able to pick through them with some semblance of shrewdness. I hope I stop losing all my money on Jeopardy in the mean time.


The word itself takes a commitment. I decided to spell out conscientiousness for the title of the post and then I did it and I got it done. I’ve always been conscientious. That’s what got me good marks at school. But today I read an article that says that often people who don’t have very high intelligence have to make up for it with conscientiousness. I felt deflated reading that: of course.

I work at things every waking moment. It’s why I’ve learned to multitask. It’s why I’m a horrible friend. I feel uneasy if I’m not getting something done. I’m conscious of the thing and then I act on it – at least that’s how I understand the word.

No. I was close. It’s actually a spelling error: conscience, not conscious. Conscientiousness implies morality.

I don’t know if that’s true. Is it moral that I want to write this novel so badly but I’m conscientiously doing my schoolwork, all of it, instead? Is it right that I am becoming a teacher when I want to be a writer?

I think I often confuse conscientiousness with obsession. I don’t need to be working so hard all the time. Maybe sometimes the thing that is right is the thing that takes less effort. Maybe I shouldn’t keep score on Jeopardy at the same time as writing my paper. Maybe it’s morally right to just watch Jeopardy and enjoy it. Maybe that’s what Jeopardy was made for.

A conscientious objector is someone who, for moral reasons, refuses to serve in the military. That’s someone who looked at their conscience and decided that everything that’s noble and true in their eyes is better than everything that’s noble and true in others’. Conscientiousness isn’t doing the hard thing, it’s becoming conscious of your conscience and following through.

So I made this post because I felt I really should and also because I’m constantly trying to make up for my intelligence by using bigger words than I need to.