Friday, 19 February 2010

Greed for Knowledge

For years, since I first thought of writing a book, I remained in my secluded world. Writers were exotic specie, tucked away in their rooms, not to be visible to normal public. It didn’t occur to me to seek them out. It didn’t occur to me that I could find them at the click of a mouse.

Then last year, taking the helm of my writing career into my own hands, and purposefully steering towards a destination, as oppose to previous drifting in an endless ocean, I discovered this big wide world of writers, editors, agents, publishers – all ever so willing to impart their wisdom. Then through them I discovered another world off the internet, of workshops, conferences, writing craft books. So much information. So much to learn. So much to do.

I read tons of blogs and books, take in all the information, read all the dos and don’ts and all the techniques. Some information I read because it tells me what I don’t want to do or become, and other because it tells me what I should do, and teaches me things I did not know before.

My brain is constantly being updated, and every day there is something new to learn, but I barely give myself time to assimilate that information. Learning information is good, but unless it is actually applied, it’s pretty much useless. Application needs time and patience. I realise that now.

Sometimes I think that I can’t possibly send my novel out in the world until I have learned everything, because I could do something more to it that I don’t yet know. I think that, and I fret, even though a rational part of me knows that there will never be a time when I have learned everything, because there will always be something new to learn. Knowledge is endless, a human life isn’t.

So I have come to accept that I must give myself time to apply what I learn, instead of constantly cramming new things in my mind. I do not need to read every single book on the writing craft, or every single agent’s blog. All I need to do is learn what I can; apply it as best as I can, and keep working on my story until it feels right to me. When it reads as it has been in my mind from its conception, then it will be ready. It may take months, it might even take years, but that’s okay, because while I am learning, and applying, I am already making fewer mistakes with the next book.

What I have learned in last few days’ reflection is that while greed for knowledge sounds far nobler than greed for anything else, knowledge by itself is not enough. Unless it is used, all the time gathering it is wasted.

I have learned that lessons. Now I need to apply it.


  1. What a great lesson to learn. I'm going to go use it.

  2. So true. If only there were a way to just "know" how to apply knowledge as soon as we learn it, eh? I'm so impatient with that...

    There's nothing better than the feeling when something finally "clicks" in my manuscript that I've learned elsewhere.

    Great reflections. :-)

  3. I so know first hand, the latter of what you say, to be true, "Knowledge is endless, a human life isn’t."

    To learn and then make time to apply what has been learnt informs that all important value-added factor to progression.

    It's so easy to continue to explore further, be tempted to gather more info. when naturally curious, be over critical, scrutinize too intensely, arrive at over-kill or get to the point of discarding what is truly captivating.

    A balance between self-evaluation and acceptance is a
    necessary life-skill well learnt.

    I so want to read your novel.

    I wish you well.... I look forward to your next blog. :)

  4. Jamie,

    I know exactly what you mean by "clicks." Love it when that happens.

    I wish we had the Matrix technology where knowledge is downloaded in your brain, and then you know it. :P

  5. Ulanda,

    Thank you for such an encouraging comment :-) Yes that very skill, balance between self-evaluation and acceptance is what I am trying to learn.

  6. You're a hundred per cent right. A book isn't a book until someone else reads it and it's only when someone else reads it that you know where you are with it and where you have to go next.

  7. Absolutely, this is something I need to be reminded of as well ;o) You have great insight in this post - seriously, I've never thought of it that way, but what is the limit? Am I really using all of this knowledge before cramming in more?

    Excellent post! Thanks ;o)