Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Little Bit of Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Ever heard the old joke about who is the most dangerous person in the army? A second lieutenant with a map and compass...

That's because you give a brand new, wet-behind-the-ears officer a map and allow him to tell others how to get somewhere, and he'll invariably screw it up and get everyone lost. It then becomes extremely difficult to win a war with your soldiers in the wrong place.

Now I've exploded that old joke by over explaining it; ever heard the one about the noobie writer who knew just a little too much to be called a noob, but not nearly enough to be considered seasoned? He made a fool of himself. Actually, that should be: I made a fool of myself.

I traipse around the web, read books and magazines, listen to shows, and chat with other writers a lot. I have certain ideas on the writing process and the industry as a whole which has developed over time as I've learned more.

When I truly was a noob, one who didn't know about guidelines pages, about manuscript formatting, about passive writing (still struggling with this on occasion), etc, etc - I thought: why are there so many people out there claiming to offer new writers good advice, and yet, they are really only trying to feather their own nest in one way or another? It pissed me off. And a lot of what they were saying was bunk!

So I vowed that I would spread any knowledge I learned freely and without prejudice or want of self gain. I started this blog and its poor cousin, the website, to meet this aim.

Yes, the blog is also my writing journal. I make no apologises for that. This is all about my journey as a writer. I try to keep things non-writing related to a minimum. I figure someone may learn something about the life of a writer if I just journal - so I do.

But I digress.

The more I developed opinions on things, the more I gathered tips, information, and what I considered good practise, the more confident I felt in liberally passing that information on, outside the borders of this blog.

Ever heard that old saying about giving someone enough rope?

Well, I inadvertently trampled all over someone else's thoughts and opinions yesterday. I not only became an over-opinionated writer, I was a typical unthinking male. I offered up not only my thoughts on a given topic, I gave out the solution. I didn't make suggestions, or possible options - I told.

For that, and for any damage I did to our friendship - I'm sorry.

There's another old saying, but this one's from the building trade: Measure twice, cut once.

It pretty much means to make sure that what you think you're about to do, is what you are really doing. Yesterday, I was trying to be encouraging and offer a suggestion on doing something in a different manner. What I did was a long way from that.

Another way to put it would be engage brain before opening mouth as receptacle for foot!

But, we live and learn - and move on.


  1. I'm about the most arrogant guy in the world, where it comes to leveraging a tiny piece of information into what I consider to be world class advice.

    You know, here's what you should do... oh, wait, there I go again...

  2. We've all been there. It's human nature to want to fluff our feathers up and strut over certain things.