After disappearing from my blog for a month (or two), I thought it might be a good idea to return with
some lessons I have learned being a writer.
Quite often I jest that I would love to be one of those vampires in the books that have become so popular. For the sole purpose of having immortality. Living without the sun? Hmm… not appealing at all. Why do I want to live forever? Well, I find it hugely frustrating that I don’t have enough time in this one life to read all the books I want, travel to all the places I would love to explore, learn about all the things that interest me, etc. And that might be my biggest frustration! The more I learn, the more I realize just exactly how little I do know. And the hungrier for information I become. There are quite a few lessons I have learned in the last decade of being a writer that are applicable to my/our everyday life/lives.
It’s so easy to write a few books, have them published, receive good to rave reviews, and then fall into the assumption that I am now a pro. I am extremely grateful to the universe that I never fell into that trap. It could be because of my other life experiences that I learned from an early age that there is so much I still have to learn about everything.
I remember meeting a man many years ago who was the editor of a small magazine. During our first meeting, he told me that after six months in that position, he knew everything. I also remember internally lifting an eyebrow, thinking that after three years of being a traditionally published author, I still considered myself to know very little. He was lucky or a genius to learn everything in so little time. Sadly, he did not last very long in his new career.
My very first book received quite the harsh red pen from the publishing house’s editor. Most authors find that process incredibly painful. Me? I loved it. From every cruel, red slash and comment I learned something that helped me with my next book. Of course, that wasn’t a guarantee that I wasn’t going to repeat some of those mistakes – I’m known at times to blame a hidden blond streak at the back of my head! Thirteen books later, I’m still open to (constructive!!) criticism, to learning from my mistakes and to knowing that the learning process is never-ending.
Here is where it relates to life: As with publishing, everything else in life is dynamic – it changes all the time. Just as I think I have this publishing thing down, something changes yet again, and I have to adjust my approach accordingly. Not always easy.
Life changes. All the time.
As much as I can, I try to stay up to date with technology and also to learn about new developments in different fields. I’m the first to admit (with an unashamed smile) that I know a little about a lot, but an expert I am not. (See how I rhymed there?! J) I’m willing to admit that I don’t know everything. I’m willing to admit that what I do know might be incomplete or even (heavens forbid!) incorrect. I’m willing to listen and expand my knowledge in the hopes to learn more and so become richer in knowledge and therefore empowered.
If you are a writer, this would be my unsolicited advice: Be open to new information. Listen, observe, process, learn. Just because someone is giving advice or their opinion, doesn’t mean you have to apply it to your writing. You could take everything, some of it or nothing. But at least you will have learned from it, even if it is how not to do something,
If you are not a writer… well, the same applies. There lessons have been valuable in personal as well as professional life. Since I only have this one life, I’m obstinately determined to learn as much as possible and to never say never!
Afterthought: Oh dear! This is quite a long post!! Hee. Hope I didn’t bore you to tears!