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Saturday, 28 February 2015

WRITING EXPERTISE. DO YOU HAVE IT? A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

Last week, in conversation with another author, I was called an expert. My horse reared up in panic and bolted from that scene, carrying me along with it.
   Nay, I demurred. Neigh, uttered the steed.


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But the other author insisted. I had to think about it. What makes you an expert in anything? Calling yourself an expert? Hell, no.


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The worst thing about Twitter is receiving messages from "social media experts" who operate in the realm of Twitter itself.
   They'll maximise and prioritise your use of Twitter. It's their business, that's what they do, and all is right with the world. That company's total Tweets?
   Oh, 25.
   Spammer. Go away and just...well...just go away. (I've removed the fucking swearing, for sensitive members of the audience.) Try again. Same sort of company. Total number of Tweets?
   Oh, 250.
   Maybe not a spammer, but not a dedicated company. Your Social Media expertise is, sadly, inexpert. Go the fuck away.
   Time to Google this shit.


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I'm staring at the top 100 Tweeters worldwide. The lowest bird on the wire sent out over 700,000 Tweets. Everyone in the top thirty is a millionaire in terms of messages sent. Almost everyone in the top forty is the same, as I type.


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You don't just say you are an expert and make it true. Expertise is built, stone on stone. More than that. You don't just get into a subject. Know your stuff. No. You end up knowing your stuff and knowing about your stuff.
   More than that. If you are called out on a detail, and asked something obscure concerning an item you just described, hell, you can show, with extended examples, that there's far more to the situation than that.
   You pick up knowledge relating to other subjects off to the side of the subject under discussion.
   Subject? Stones. And, by way of a journey from stone to stone, your subject also covers the cracks between the stones and everything down in those cracks.
   What do I mean?
   You can talk about the subject, and talk about the history of the subject, then expand on a point if asked a tricky question - all without recourse to notes. And almost always, crucially, you can manage this with a great degree of accuracy backing up what you say.
   With notes to hand, you bring those raw facts and statistics to life. To you, this casual conversation seems, to the uninitiated, as though akin to discovering how to make fire. It is sorcery.


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So I was called an expert on a subject, after talking to another author about that nonsense. I delved into the history of the topic. And I gave examples of things that related to other matters.
   The arcane topic under discussion had an affect on many areas beyond the core discussion, and I amplified on all this waffle, gave examples, and illuminated the murky landscape.
   I was then called an expert.
   Which I denied being.
   Later, I thought about it. I knew details of some boardroom battles concerning the major players inside companies. Yes, I certainly knew the history.
   I drew a line, filling in a map, and suddenly there was a world. Do I know much about the subject? Enough to be dangerous. I'm no expert. Much of my knowledge is pre-Google. I've yet to decide if that's a bad thing. It may be a good thing, for a limited time.
   Right now, I'm just going with the idea that it's a thing.

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There is no such thing as writing expertise. Writing is such a broad church that it only fits inside the back end of a Star Destroyer. (This ain't your grandma's internet. Google that shit.)
   Be suspicious of experts in writing. If you are an expert in an area of writing, a narrow one that would fit easily on the head of a pin, be content with that.
   There's always one more thing to do, and much to learn.

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No horse suffered panic in the writing of this blog. Sometimes writers resort to imagery, to get a point across. At other times, they resort to panic and frantic typing. This leads to imagery, and more frantic typing. Typing that's more frantic. And lots of it. That's a thing, now.


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