I feel like I’m having one of those days.
It happens every now and then. I’m doing the things I regularly do. I’m reading the papers and looking at stuff on the internet. I’m thinking about stories I’m yet to write. I’m also thinking about stories I’ve already written and wondering what I can do to get publishers interested in them. And I’m thinking about stories I’ve actually gotten published, and wondering how I can get more people to buy them.
And that’s when it hits me – not for the first time. I have no idea about any of these things.
Consuming any information from any kind of media has become so confusing. I’ll read an article with a particular point of view, and think “Oh yes, that’s all completely valid and reasonable and I’m sure I agree with it.” But then I’ll read another article with a diametrically opposing point of view, and I’ll think, “Well that seems pretty reasonable too, so I probably agree with that as well.” It all leads to a pretty confused and convoluted view of the world, I can tell you.
The whole writing thing isn’t much better. So much advice, and so many rules on how to write a story. Stick to the right genre and keep your target market in mind. Write for yourself and create art. Follow all the clearly defined rules of narrative structure, but make sure that what you’re writing isn’t too much like what everyone else is writing.
And as for marketing books, that’s easy as well. Just follow about 50 thousand different rules and take advantage of the several million marketing tools available, and don’t be afraid to give up most of your hard-earned cash, even if you have no idea if you’ll ever get any return on it.
These are the moments when I throw my arms up in despair. How do I deal with all of this confusing and contradictory information and advice? How do I determine the correct path to forge ahead? And the answer to this at least is simple. I have absolutely no idea.
And this, I like to think, is the first step. I reckon that acknowledging how little you know about so many things is the best way to make a start on moving forward. If you already believe you know it all, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be wrong and end up going down the wrong path.
Not to say that luxuriating in ignorance is a risk-free option. You can end up paralysing yourself if you’re too scared to make any decisions about moving forward. But I’d choose it over over-confidence in my knowledge any day.
Because today I might have no idea what I’m talking about. But one day, if I play my cards right, there’s just a teensy chance that maybe I will.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as