Building a History

I am a girl that pays attention.

Okay, I’m a girl that pays attention to the things that matter to me and since lots of things matter to me I end up paying a lot of attention to a lot of things. Most of the time I call it research. I truly believe all knowledge is worth having because once you have it you make better choices and don’t look like an idiot. [1]

Granted, Not Looking Stupid is a process and fear of it can lead to Inaction and Cowardice. [2] So, like with most good things in life, Gathering Knowledge and Not Looking Stupid are about finding a balance.

And to find that balance you have to build a history.

I’ve seen this process called many things: A resume, grad school, Life–but in more concrete terms, especially in this much more digital age, it’s about establishing your credibility through blogging [3], social media, and even making videos. It’s about doing your research and saying what you think you want to say, getting feedback, and saying it again. [4]

There’s this theory out there about the 10,000 hours you need to become an expert. Those hours are needed to learn your craft and get better at it. Those hours are musicians playing in crappy bars, actors taking every role they’ve auditioned for, and politians speaking in every debate. You spend that time getting better at what you want to do.

For writers, it’s about a million bad words. It’s why Brandon Sanderson says he wrote 12 books before getting books 6 and 13 published. [5] It’s why Shannon Hale talks about all her rejections and keeps them in a lamented roll to flourish when she speaks.

It’s why you call a writer who never gave up, who kept pushing and writing and editing and scraping and querying one thing: Published.

So, I’ve been paying attention to these people. They all have a history. They all took the time to build it. They spend time balancing fear of Not Looking Stupid with their research and they talk about what’s important to them. [6]

I’ve been talking about this theory with friends and family and when my friend Audrey Gonzalez started talking about her thoughts regarding racial diversity in writing and how Stacy Whitman might give a particular link some awareness, I suggested she write something up too. [7]

She did. It was kinda of amazing to watch her pull together her thoughts and start her history. I told her she’s building her street cred now. She laughed and told me if I was worth my sauce and passionate speeches [8] I would write something up.

So I did.


[1] I really like research. I hate looking stupid.
[2] I’ve been reading a lot of Terry Pratchett lately. This means I think in Capitol Letters sometimes.
[3] In all it’s varieties. Like Youtube.
[4] Later. Rinse. Repeat
[5] These numbers are based on my memory of an early episode of Writing Excuses. I’m probably wrong. I do know he wrote what seems like an obscene amount of books before the rejections stopped. By the way, he’s finishing The Wheel of Time right now.
[6] Sometimes it’s writing in general, sometimes its larger issues that light their brilliant passion.
[7] I’m totally taking some credit in this. I’m that kind of friend >.>
[8] My best ones are given via text. I’m also a really good public speaker. True Story.

4 Responses to "Building a History"

  • Does this mean I get to take some credit for this post? XD Nice commentary on the subject, and I still love your little footnotes.

    (You’ve got too many words in your sentence about BWS’s writing history. Delete the “before he” to fix it.)

    1 Audrey Gonzalez said this (November 9, 2011 at 11:35) Reply

    • You totally get to take credit for this post! I wrote it ’cause I told you I was going to put money in my mouth. Or something like that.

      (I think I fixed it? I wasn’t sure and reading it out loud wasn’t helping. I’m probably hungry. >.>)

      2 Gwynne said this (November 9, 2011 at 12:31) Reply

      • Try: It’s why Brandon Sanderson says he wrote 12 books before getting books 6 and 13 published.

        3 Audrey Gonzalez said this (November 9, 2011 at 13:08) Reply

        • Thank you! It took me a few days of not looking at it to see what you were talking about. It is now fixed and you continue to be awesome <3

          4 Gwynne said this (November 14, 2011 at 14:10) Reply

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