It’s Okay to Know Nothing

The  only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
-Socrates

My name is Erica, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Question 3So if I say this to you, your first reaction might be to look concerned and go “Awh, honey, that’s not true. You totally got this.” Perhaps in time, that would be true. As I age and gain experience in this crazy world of publishing, maybe I’ll start to feel like I understand a little bit more.
Maybe each attempt at starting a new book won’t feel like I’ve forgotten every single thing I ever learned about writing and I’m again sitting in my Fiction I class during my freshman year of college, being told that I need to “write what I know.” (To read my thoughts on that, check out here). I’d like to think I’ll suddenly receive some sort of grail-like knowledge about writing that will convince me I’m not a hack, but I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

LoveI’ve heard many authors say that no matter how many books you’ve written, you still at some point in writing on each project feel like everyone is going to find out you’re an imposter. I like to think of Nora Roberts sitting at her desk, banging her head against her keyboard because she’s suddenly forgotten all of the words in the English language. But as La Nora says (and we like to quote a lot here at Teatime), you can’t fix a blank page. So I assume she stops, collects herself, and keeps on going.
Because the truth of the matter is this: as an artist, every project is different. Just because I’m heading into the last things I need to do before I can finally publish A Dangerous Invitation doesn’t mean the novella I’m working on now, Secrets in Scarlet, will go any easier. It’s a whole different animal with new characters and new problems. Hopefully, I’ve learned not to commit the exact same mistakes I did in plotting ADI the first go around, but I’ll make seventeen new mistakes.

Student With Computer OutdoorsAnd you know what, that’s okay. The beauty of writing is that the first draft isn’t your last draft. For me, that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing because the exercise of drafting makes me stabby. I am a much happier editor, when I’ve got a framework to work with and I know what’s going to happen. This is also why the first few chapters make me have an anxiety attack.

If I’ve learned anything through the course of writing A Dangerous Invitation, it is that writing takes time. You’re going to do lots of drafts. I think ADI will have gone through at least seven drafts before it gets published. Each one made the story stronger and I’m so happy that I had critique partners who made me work my rear off to get to the right place with this book.

In writing this post, I went back and looked at the blogs I had done throughout this year and last. Last October, I was just starting to really draft A Dangerous Invitation. I had an idea and a feeling that I was going in the right direction. In December, I’ll be pushing the “publish” button on this book and I couldn’t be prouder.

Because even I don’t always know what I’m doing, there are so many people out there willing to steer you in the right direction. You’ll get there eventually. And when you do, the journey will be so worth it.

 Cheerleader

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6 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Know Nothing

  1. Erica, this post is all full of amazing-ness (yeah not a word but I’m using it anyway). you are so right, especially when you talk about sitting down to start a new project, forgetting all the words of the English language. And each new one is hard. But one wonderful author once told me, “Good writing is HARD.” Boy was she right!
    I bet when you go back and look at your original draft of your book it is so completely different. The language, the flow, everything is stronger and tighter now. I can’t wait to see your book go live. Congratulations.
    Tweeted and shared

  2. The first thing I thought when I read the blog title is, I agree. With each book you start out not knowing anything, then you learn. That’s the amazing part about this whole thing. Tweeted and shared.

    • Exactly. I am a masochist because I start out with “hmm, I know nothing about factories but I’ve always wanted to, so let’s do something based on that. LOTS OF RESEARCH HERE WE COME.”

      Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. If you aren’t a little fearful when you put yourself out there for criticism – good and bad – then you’re just not alive. You’re doing great, Erica. You’re very alive and if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. 😀

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