Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I didn't Know What I Didn't Know

Dear Readers and Romance Magicians: I'm in the middle of a HUGE revision (more about that later) so I thought I'd share a portion of a blog I wrote about becoming a writer because I didn't know what I didn't know. I hope you enjoy this retro read. 

During my summer vacation I visited with my dear friend in Oakton, VA. Her mother is a super person and had come along to the pool with us (along with dear friend's darling daughters aged 4 & 6) when we hung out. We got into some interesting conversations while we lazed around the pool deck. My friend's mother brought up a New York Times series about the concept YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. We had a lot of fun with the play on words, but based on our conversations, it's really about the human ability to deny the existence of problem before they undertake something or to not know what problems lie ahead of their efforts to perform some task.

Okay, she used a bank robber who believed if he rubbed lemon juice on his face, no one would see his face in a photograph. He didn't know what he didn't know. Obviously or he wouldn't have attempted his bone headed attempt to rob a bank with lemon juice on his face. I know that lemon juice doesn't prevent my face from being recognized. I know what I know. But had I known five years ago what I know now, would I have begun writing?

I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't know how hard it was to get published. I didn't know how painful it was to revise. I didn't know how frustrating the task of unthreading a story multiple times and sewing it back together again would be to perform. I didn't know how much I had to know about plot, craft, POV. I didn't know about RWA, writing chapters, and online writing classes. I didn't know that I would stop doing everything I was into doing to give my heart to writing.

I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't know I'd meet amazing people who didn't know what they didn't know. I didn't know that I'd grow tough skin and learn to deal with rejections. I didn't know that I had more than one story in me. I didn't know that I had something to offer other writers as a reader, a judge, a friend, a motivator. I didn't know what I didn't know.

I'm glad I didn't know what I didn't know. If I had known about the hard stuff, I might not have started writing. And then I wouldn't have learned about all the wonderful, good stuff about writing.

I'm sure I don't know what I don't know about many more things. I'll leave the gathering of the knowledge to time, experience and the pursuit of knowledge.


Allen said...

Thought-provoking post, Christine. I didn't have any idea when I started writing that I STILL wouldn't know it all fifteen years later!

Chris Bailey said...

HA! What a shock--my husband was already signed in on this computer, and I didn't notice. Y'all, meet Allen. He's channeling my thoughts today.

Anne Gallagher said...

I didn't know about building a fence before I built one. Perhaps if I did know, I would have used more power tools. But I didn't know.

You're right, about the writing. I think if most of us knew what it would entail we wouldn't be doing it. It's really hard work. And who wants to work hard for rejection after rejection, little or no pay, doing things that are a major time suck away from our families, and with no reward?

Until we get that one big break. And even then it's not a guarantee.

Christine said...

Hi Allen: It's an ongoing learning process!! I love writing, but I always feel like I have so much to discover as a writer. I'm constantly fine tuning the process.

Hi Chris: *waving to Allen* glad you are here!

Hi Anne: I can't even imagine building a fence, but you did it!! Wow. And yes, we're not writing for the accolades or the money when we're unpublished. We're just forging ahead and hanging on to our dream with all our strength of will. I know it will pay off in the end for you and for me.


Gwen Hernandez said...

Ha, so true. That ignorant bliss at the beginning gets us hooked, and then once we know, it's too late. ;-)

M.V.Freeman said...

Ignorance is bliss...
I'm so deep in it now, I can't give up. Writing is in my blood..just look at the bleeding pages..(ha!)

Still, when I try to tell people about writing--and what it entails they don't believe me.

again--ignorance is bliss.

Thanks Christine, I love this post!

Christine said...

HI Gwen: I know. Ignorance was a happy time. But so is knowing what I didn't know. I still don't know what I don't know about the future :-)

Hi M.V.:Glad you enjoyed reading the post. Yes, once you are in the thick of the jungle we call writing, it is hard to quit hacking away at the vines. We just can't help ourselves. "It is in our blood." :-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Terrific post, Christine! And so true. If sometime presented all of this as a job description how many people would apply for the position? Not many!

So I'm trying to decide if writing is a sickness, an addiction, a calling or all three? Probably all three. And yet I can't walk away. I guess because it has been and always will be part of who I am. You can't step away from yourself and I can't step away from writing.

I wish I did know exactly what a roller coaster ride it is. Might have saved me some of the self-doubt, crying and hair pulling the first couple of years. However, now I've ridden this ride so long I just sit back and hang on.

Christine said...

Hi Louisa: You're right. It would be nice to know what kind of roller coaster ride this writing gig is before we start. But I think deep down we do know. We look at that monster, that beast of rail and steel, and we want to ride it. We have no idea what kind of ride it will be until we climb aboard. That's the reality. And each rider on the coaster experiences the dips and valleys, the corkscrews, the highs, the thrills in different ways. I still get nervous when I get on a roller coaster. I know I'll have fun, but those drops are scary. Yet I ride them.

Writing is totally like an addiction, calling and illness rolled into a crazy package. I'm just glad we have some fabulous riders to share the coaster with us!!!