Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Do You Know It All?

Well, do you? I'm sure you know a teenager or two who thinks s/he does. And honestly, the eye-rolling, sigh-humphing, drawn-out vocalisms are overly tedious to those of us who must endure them. But that's not the kind of "knowing" that I mean.

Think about it for a minute. No, seriously. Take a deep breath and consider: What do you know?

We're told from the moment we pick up the pen that we need to write what we know. For years, I threw up my hands, thinking, "Um. I know nothing." And then, after teaching for over a decade, I threw up my hands, thinking, "Um. I have zero desire to write about teaching." But that's not the point. That's not what I should be writing about. (Though, admittedly, all sorts of people really do write what they know. Kathy Reichs, for example.) It's deeper that that, however. Much deeper. It's about relationships and human interactions and growing up. It's about becoming a better person and learning about yourself and learning to think about others. In fact, writing is a little like growing up.

So think: What do you know? What do you want to know? What are you doing to find out?

Orson Scott Card explains that "a good storyteller's education never ends, because to tell stories perfectly you have to know everything about everything." He goes on to admit that, obviously, "none of actually achieves such complete knowledge -- but we should live as if we were trying to" (How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy 61).

This, then, is not about the protagonist or the lesson he desperately needs to learn. This is not about the pain your heroine undergoes, metal in a forge, to become the person she should be. This is about you, the author, learning, enduring, seeking, questioning, and more.

What do you do to learn? How do you research? How do you spark that creative genius within your soul? What's your magic process?


  1. The further I get into this writing journey the more I realize how little I know and how much there is to learn.

    process? geeze, I don't have one other than butt in chair.

  2. How I learn:

    I cheat. My clients pay me money to research and learn. And I usually do my Gartner and academic reading in a coffee shop surrounded by perky baristas.

    Yes, I am indeed that awesome.

    Well, at least my day job is!

    (I love that Card book. So succinct and useful)

  3. I'm afraid the useless information part of my brain is much bigger than the one shown in that diagram :-)

    But I do try to learn as much about the subject that I am writing about.


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