I’m almost 50. 50! When I say that I think two things immediately… (1.) Wow that used to seem so far away and (2) 50 ain’t so old… It’s funny that as you get to an age it suddenly doesn’t seem as “old” as it once did. When I was in my 20’s 30 was middle age…now…50 is definitely middle age. The point is, here I am and 50 isn’t just in sight but actually just one exit away and I’m seeing things through those eyes realizing how much I don’t actually know.
I used to wonder if I would ever get to an age where I didn’t have to learn so much. My grandmother used to seem so wise and I would think while listening to her tell stories, “hey I want to be that way one day; older, wiser, not having to “learn” anything anymore…” I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how silly that thought seems now. The truth is you never stop learning, or at least you shouldn’t stop learning. I suppose if you really wanted to you could refuse to learn at some point but I’m here to tell you that even if you aren’t actively learning, life has a way of teaching you a thing or two anyways, so you might as well have some control in the matter and be all active about it.
As a writer I strive to learn everything I can about everything. It’s not that I want to be a know-it-all, (although my brother still thinks I am) I just want to be informed so that when I write my novels I at least seem like I know what I am talking about. It’s important when writing to at least know “something” about your subject matter because if you don’t, your readers will shine a flashlight on your ignorance and that is downright embarrassing.
In this day and age when technology is often the flashlight, it is even more important because those little retired school teachers with nothing better to do but play Bingo on the internet will also point out your mistakes, factual or grammar-wise, for all to see…on the internet. When my second novel came out I personally got hit by a retired grammar Nazi who pointed out, in a review of my book on Amazon, that I had misspelled 42 words within the novel. In a book of some 90,000 words, 42 were misspelled and this little old lady not only found them and highlighted them but then pointed it out on the World Wide Web. (emphasis on worldwide) It was like being caught with your pants down in the backseat of a Ford by a traffic cop…you can’t pull your pants up fast enough.
That little old retired school teacher did teach me something though and, for that, I am grateful. I strived after that to make sure that I went over my spelling even more carefully. It was my first lesson in continuing education and I’ve had many others since. My point is this…I don’t know it all and chances are, I never will, but I can continue to learn as I go and make sure that whatever my subjects are I am as well versed in them as I can be. I don’t like having that flashlight shined on me but, more importantly, I really hate looking stupid.
Despite the fact that 50 is middle age (and you all know it is) I do still have a lot to learn and I intend to do so every single day. My advice to you fellow writers is to do so as well. Continue to ask questions, to read books, to watch movies and documentaries and, most importantly, to listen to the world around you. You still have a lot to learn…and that’s okay…you will, in the end, be a better writer for having done it.
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