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If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?

 

If there’s one thing we can learn from history, it’s that everyone makes mistakes. These can be divided into two types. The first affects a lot of people, like when King Priam of Troy said, “Ooh look, those nice Greeks left us a present. Open the gates and bring it inside” or when Napoleon decided it was a good idea to invade Russia. Thankfully, for most of us, our mistakes fall into the second category, the kind that only hurts the person who makes it – like the lactose intolerant astronaut who has a double cheeseburger and milkshake just before a six-hour spacewalk.

 

Looking back to when I first started writing, I’d say my biggest mistake by far (and believe there were a lot of dumb things to choose from) was writing a novel without ever having written a short story (unless you count school, which I left at age sixteen, almost thirty years earlier), and without bothering to find out how it should be done. 

 

Back then, I’d never heard of ‘First drafts’, ‘POV’ or even ‘Show don’t tell’. I honestly thought all I needed to do after typing 'THE END' was run Spell-check and send it off to some lucky agent. To make matters worse, I didn’t even research how to write a query letter.

 

Boy was I in for a rude awakening

 

The one good thing that came from it was the realization that I didn’t know what I was doing, and if I ever wanted to be successful, I’d better wise up fast. I wasted hundreds, maybe thousands of hours, all because I didn’t have the sense to understand that good writing comes from constant practice and a willingness to learn. 

 

If I could turn back the clock, I don't think I'd stop myself from writing a novel, but I would definitely give myself a kick up the bum, along with instructions to learn about the craft by finding a couple of good writing groups, joining some online communities like the ones hear on Live Journal and studying books like Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass.

 

How about you?

 

If you could start your writing career again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?



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Comments

txtriffidranch
Nov. 11th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
If it were me, that's simple. I'd have stayed the hell away from science fiction. That's 13 years of inanity that I'll never get back.
jongibbs
Nov. 11th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
Ah, but think of all those people you'd never have got to add to your 'When I rule the world, these are the first ones to go' list ;)
txtriffidranch
Nov. 11th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Naah. With most of these, letting them live would be the worst punishment of all. There's a certain satisfaction in listening to Gardner Dozois whining about why some rich bastard won't subsidize a magazine solely so he can go back to being the famous and adored editor he sees himself as once being. I may have a lot of flaws, but I quit because I understood that I was hated and loathed among the skiffy community. Ol' Gardner still hasn't come to grips with that.
jongibbs
Nov. 11th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
Well, you're certainly not hated and loathed here :)

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there


No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there















 











THE MEAGER PUDDLE OF LIMELIGHT AWARDS


Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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