Ignorance IS bliss

September 28, 2008 by in category Blogs with 1 and 0
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By Laura Drake

Many writers I know began writing at an early age. They’ll tell you about a story they wrote about their dog in the third grade. I’m not one of them. I came into writing “butt first”(as I’ve found I do a lot of things in life.) I’ve always been an avid reader, but have only begun writing in the last few years. It’s given me a different perspective on the whole experience.

When I started writing my first novel (no short story practice for me, I jumped into the deep end – something else I’m known for) I’d never read a book on craft – plot, characterization, POV, or any of the millions of details you need to know. Funny though – because I’ve read so much, I knew a lot of this inherently, but didn’t know that I knew it. I was following rules that I wasn’t even aware of, because I know what works in a good story, and what doesn’t.

My method has been a negative in several ways:

Trust me – the “blind squirrel finds an acorn” is not the fastest way to write a novel. I started on page one with only a vague idea of where I was headed with the plot. Working my way through was like being in a pipe clogged with mud…I’d move forward a bit, then have to wait for everything to settle before I could move again.

And don’t even get me started on editing! Luckily I’m a good speller, but I could only edit with the rules I knew; I kept discovering new ones as I went along, and would have to start over – like fifteen times! Can you imagine, not knowing rules for POV? What “telling” is? Passive voice? Looking back, I laugh (as I’m sure I’ll laugh at my current writing in a few years.)

But this perspective has also been good in several ways:

I was too ignorant to be afraid.
I also didn’t know how long the road I’d started on was going to be.
Or how much editing lie ahead.
How many rejections
Since I didn’t know how to go about writing a novel, I had no expectations…of my writing or myself.

I guess ignorance can be bliss, because I have never felt so fulfilled or proud as when I typed the last word.

1 Comment

  • Anonymous
    on September 29, 2008

    You and I have a lot in common. I almost wish I could go back and forget some of the things I’ve learned about writing. Some of it has helped but I found myself bogged down in the “have to’s” and “mustn’t do’s” and it paralized me for a time. I’ve swept the desk of my mind clear (although I know the knowledge is lerking back there somewhere) and made myself move forward. I found the joy I felt when I first started writing and am excited to sit down and just do it.

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