Wednesday, October 24, 2012

With Age Comes Wisdom

By Mark W. Danielson

The reason we say “with age comes wisdom” is so when we get older, we can look back and realize how fortunate we have been.  Between bad judgment, disease, accidents, and war, it’s amazing this many of us live past twenty.  The problem is we don’t realize our good fortune when we are twenty, nor do we celebrate our elders’ wisdom until much later in life.

I have survived over forty-seven years of piloting airplanes and thirty-five as a published author.  During this time my thought processes have gone through many stages from “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, to “Maybe I should give this another look.”  In laymen’s terms, I’m saying that wisdom can only be achieved through survival and perseverance.  Although writing is more forgiving than flying, in both cases we learn from our mistakes and move forward.  Rejection has always made me stronger and more determined, although I’m not sure publishing houses had that in mind when they sent their canned responses.

In the day of instant gratification, we sometimes forget that time is our friend.  Yes, some authors can crank out stories at alarming rates, but it’s usually evident when they didn’t allow their words to ferment.  If deadlines are not an issue, the best thing we can do is hide our “finished” work and move on to something else.  Months later, when you remove your manuscript from its hiding place, it’s like reading someone else’s work, except here you are empowered to edit.   It’s amazing how different your masterful writing looks after you’ve given it an extended break. 

Now that anything can be published on the web, it’s more critical than ever that our writing be meaningful.  For the sake of the industry, never publish substandard or inaccurate material.  If you think of its permanence as a reflection on yourself, you’ll see it’s worth the wait.  This advice comes from an old man – a survivor who has gained wisdom with age, and hopes to gain much more before his final chapter is written.  Take it with a bucket of salt.  I’m still scratching the surface of what I hope to accomplish, but I have reached the stage where I realize that learning never ceases. 


Bill Kirton said...

Wise words, as ever, Mark. Your main point is one I always make in workshops or talks - the separation of the two processes, writing and editing, with as big a gap as possible between the two. Get the first draft on the page/screen without worrying too much about the peripheral, technical things, then come back to it and give it a professional edit/rewrite. Not nearly enough writers do that - and it does show.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Thanks, Bill. When it comes to writing, or at least good writing, patience is a requirement. Whether those who grew up in a world of instant everything will ever understand that remains to be seen. Then again, with age comes wisdom:)

Jaden Terrell said...

Very timely post, Mark. It's so easy to think the manuscript is "good enough" when it could be so much better.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Thanks, Beth. Stories are like fine wine. They take time to create, and if you're not careful, they can still leave a bad taste:)