As I’m writing this blog, I’m looking up at a calendar. On the March page is a photo of two little bunnies in a field of daisies. It’s the cutest thing.
I mention it because seeing the innocence of animals reminds me of how innocent we are not. This is both a blessing and a curse. Our turns of phrase and axioms contradict each other all the time:
Ignorance is bliss.
Not knowing is the worst part.
What you don’t know can’t hurt you.
Knowledge is power.
I’m not trying to get into anything deep here. Believe me, I’ve had my fill of deep thinking lately, as the death of one’s parent can push one to do. What I’m getting at is that one of the reasons that makes us (supposedly) superior to all other animal races, our ability to reason, is also the thing that makes us the most dysfunctional. Processing is what makes the human race creative. We’ve seen creativity from other animal species as well, but usually where survival is concerned (for example, monkeys that find creative ways to open coconuts). Humans create art for expression. (Yes, yes, I know there are elephants that paint, but let’s stay on point, shall we?) Knowing, thinking, reasoning all makes us fearful. And, as we all know, fear leads to bad things.
As difficult as it to hear things that we don’t like, it is hearing them that educates us and, therefore, makes us stronger. On the surface, it may seems that I’m talking about politics, social issues, or even romantic/sexual situations, and certainly what I’m saying can be applied to those things.
But what I’m really talking about is writing. Writing can be such a solitary pursuit that we shut ourselves out from the world and burrow into our own heads. And while that’s necessary during the actual writing process, it’s also very important that we put ourselves in a position to absorb what’s happening in the larger world. What are other writers writing? How are they writing it? How do you plot a novel? What are the accepted rules for submission?
You’d be surprised how many new writers plow ahead with their stories without having the slightest clue about how publishing works. Before the internet, writers had to do heels-on-the-pavement research about everything they wrote about; now, in the era of technology, writers don’t even have to crawl out of bed to get the information they want. Yet newbies don’t know enough to even do a Google search like “How do I get published?” or “How do I write a novel?” Believe it or not, it does get as basic as that, and still people don’t make the effort. In both my fiction and nonfiction groups/pages/boards I see questions like, “I have an idea for a book. What do I do now?”
What?! That’s like saying, “I have a car. Where should I drive it?” There are a million places you can go—it’s up to you to decide where you need to be.
Many people arm themselves with knowledge and become savvy artists. But others, unfortunately, refuse to hear what others are telling them or learn the lessons that would move them further along in their careers.
Yes, sometimes ignorance can be bliss, and it’s better not to know something. But in the case of writing, it never is. It’s never better to be ignorant. It never works in your favor to not have knowledge of your craft or your industry. (The only exception to this rule, in my opinion, is to be ignorant of any really bad, hurtful reviews. And even then, I would say it depends on the review and the source, because even bad reviews can be helpful.)
The point I’m making is this: open your ears and eyes, listen to what you’re being told, don’t be dismissive, and learn from others. This is how we grow. As adorable as those bunnies may be, running around in a field, munching on flowers, it’s a tough life out in the wild. Humans have their own version of “the wild” and we can negotiate it better if we know what we need to know to be ready for anything that comes at us.