N is for Naive




I read a comment last week on one of my posts – it was a post about everything involved in making it as a writer – and the comment talked about how it helps to be a little naïve when we’re first starting out. I couldn’t agree more.

Like many of us, I knew absolutely squat when I began my foray into writing a book. How do you gauge when it’s long enough? Pages? Word count? How many words per page? How many pages is a typical book? How many chapters…scenes…and how long is each of those? I mean I started at ground zero…check that, I was ten feet under ground zero. When I finished my book I let a few people read it (relatives and friends) and they told me it was really good, and that I should try to have it published. How do you do that? Thus began the slow process of educating myself…after a period of trial and error, mostly error of course.

I look back on all that now and cringe when I think about how naïve I was. I’m sure it’ll make an interesting tale when I finally do get published, but so is the story about my first date and I’m not anxious to be sharing that one anytime soon either. The thing is, when you’re going through it you don’t really realize how uninformed you are or how you appear to the experienced others. It’s not until you wise-up and start learning how things work (these blogs are a major step in the right direction) or somebody takes pity on you and points out your miss-steps does the humiliation begin to sink in.

The positive thing about my naivety is that by the time it wore off I was so invested in what I was doing that there was no turning back. Ignorance is bliss and sometimes that’s just what we need to launch a pre-emptive strike against our insecurities.  Do I know everything there is to know about writing a good book and becoming published now?  Heck no...far from it...but I am at a point where I've left wide-eyed innocence and awkward bumbling far behind. How about you?

This spring a short story of mine will be my first foray into publication via the anthology series AN HONEST LIE. It would be naive of me to downplay the significance of that, and thankfully that’s something I no longer am. :)

Did you know I was holding a contest during the A-Z Challenge? You can read all about it HERE.

46 comments

  1. I'm pretty sure that no matter where I am on my life's journey, I'll never leave awkward bumbling behind. =)

    Congrats on the short story! That's amazing news!!

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  2. Congrats on the story, and all the best with your writing!

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge
    AZ blogs on Social Media

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  3. DL, I stumbled into publishing literally. I was mad and wrote an article that was published in a regional publication and went national. I wasn't looking to be an author. I was contacted by a publisher to expand my article into a book, and then the publisher recommended an agent. Almost unheard of today. I was blind sided in a good way. I had a chance to learn the business backwards from published author over 30 years ago to savvy published author. I like the analogy of the first date jitters though.

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  4. I don't have to appear Naive, I am totally naive when it comes to anything about writing, luckliy I write poetry which don't have to have a plot, characters etc.I write mainly about life's experiences.
    Great post.
    Yvonne.

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  5. Congrats on the short story!

    Being naive has it's advantages. One of those is pure enthusiasm. I think I was more excited when I didn't know everything I do now.

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  6. Oh, I'm still so naive...but getting more educated the more I "hang out" with writer buddies. Congrats on getting your first story published. Big milestone - I remember it vividly. Then I bought a book for each of my in-laws, The Engineer, and Best. Only best made a comment about my story. My family is still, "Oh that's a nice little hobby, honey."

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

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  7. When I first started writing, I was totally naive too. I felt I was an excellent writer with super skills so how shocked I was when I received my first honest critique. I'm not so naive anymore. I know that I will have to keep improving as a writer, probably until the day I die.

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  8. If we realised how much there was to learn before we started, it would seem infinitely more daunting and we might never start! You've got to jump in and get your hands dirty... and pass on lessons learned to those who come after. :)

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  9. Great post. I could have written the same story. I had no idea what I was getting into when I began. Maybe that is a good thing. Because like you, had I known ---I'm mean really known the hard road ahead, I never would started that second book. Being naive can really come in handy at times. Congratulations on the short story. I get the feeling from reading your post that it's only the beginning for you.

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  10. I think it is best to be a bit naive at first. Publishing is a tough road to travel. I doubt people would start the journey if they knew how difficult it was going to be.

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  11. 'Wide eyed innocence and awkward bumbling left behind...' Boy on boy, do I ever hear ya. Sometimes I would like to return that that time when all I did was write and there was no internal editor. But, I guess this is what's called progress.

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  12. I've been writing so long you'd think I'd know better. But I'm still naively unaware of how difficult it is. :D

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  13. I prefer to be blissfully unaware, otherwise all that I have to do and learn would probably immobilize me.

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  14. I've always prided myself on being a realist! But I'm also a die-hard optimist! Hopefully this is the correct combination to keep me going on this "writerly journey"...

    Writer In Transit

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  15. I was just as naive when I first started out. I look at my first book now and I cringe :) So this anthology An Honest Lie - when does it come out and how do we purchase? You'll let us know, right?

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  16. Congratulations on the short story! That's awesome!
    I am right here with you on all of this. I knew nothing. It's embarrassing now, but you're right, by the time you figure it out you're invested. If I'd had a clue when I started I'm sure I would have just given up.

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  17. Author Unaware is a title I've toyed with. Coming to this publishing business has been very interesting and instructive--the hard way instructive. Congrats on the short story!

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  18. YAY. DL... CONGRATS ON PUBLICATION. That is so AWESOME! I'm still in the unpublished trenches, but as my blog title says ... In Time ...

    Yes, I was super naive, but the journey for fledgling to accomplished author is an exciting, aggravating, INSANE, LONG, tedious, yadda, yadda, yadda. But the main thing is we move ahead and grow. So, when the time comes we are ready to accept the next step... DEADLINES and more REVISIONS.. lol.

    All the best!

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  19. Today I posted about being naive. Your post struck home. Visiting from A-Z

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  20. Congratulations again, DL!!
    I think I'm still naive...

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  21. Congratulations!!! When does the anthology release? That's awesome!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  22. Congrats on the anthology!! You're on your way!!

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  23. I never looked at it this way, but you are absolutely right.

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  24. Everyone in our family rode horses and our dad used to say no matter how long we rode, there was always more to learn. I think the same applies to writing. You need to keep trying to improve and finding ways to keep your readers interested. It is overwhelming when you think of how much there is to learn.
    Congrats on your Anthology publication, DL! Amazing, well-deserved news.

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  25. Well, I think the trick is to never let them see you sweat, which should be easy for a writer.
    And, yes, that makes perfect sense in relation to what you're talking about.

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  26. I think being naive is definitely an important part of being a beginner-- sometimes it helps keep you from quitting! And congrats and good luck with the anthology publication!

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  27. I definitely was naive. Looking back, I wonder how I could be that innocent! Yet I'm happy to have stuck with it.

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  28. Yeah if I hadn't been naive I probably would never have had the nerve to put myself out there. Congratulations on the anthology publication that's great.

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  29. Yep, I was completely naïve. When I discovered the writing/blogging world is when I really started to learn - still am :)

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  30. I think everyone starts out at least a bit naive. I still am naive in some ways and have a lot to learn, but it's amazing just how much I've learned in the short time that I've been taking my writing seriously. It's funny to me when I get comments from people asking why I'm not published yet, and I have to explain to them everything that goes into it where a year and a half ago I couldn't have even begun to tell you.

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  31. I agree that it's good to start out naive. If I'd known in the beginning how much work the writing process really is, I think I would have run away screaming. Now I've got too much invested in it to turn back, and I've learned to love different aspects of the process.

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  32. I am so glad I started out just thinking that my book was going to be so awesome that all I was going to have to do was send it to a publisher and voile! If I had known about queries and platforms and proposals, I might have freaked out.

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  33. I was as naive as they come. I'm still naive a little.
    Congrats on the short story!

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  34. You are so right! Being naive is what kept me going when I wanted to quit that first book so many times. It's shelved now, but I learned from the process of writing that book and now I'm hooked.

    Congratulations on your short story! :)

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  35. Congratulations, DL.
    I'm like you. When I started my first book, I knew NOTHING. I kept hearing about a site called Querytracker.net... What the heck's a query? At some point during my first draft, I started studying and learning. If my first book never makes it anywhere, I won't consider it a loss. I learned so much in that first year.

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  36. Being naive can be a real blessing! I started the same way and I believe if I knew everything I do now I'd never have finished my first manuscript.

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  37. Naive, yes. I was and I think I'm still deliberately naive on those regards. Haven't given it much of a thought because I think if I do, I'll just dump the idea of ever be published through the window.

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  38. Although as writers, we must never stop learning, I do believe most of my accidental bumbling is behind me. I still do off-kilter things, but they're not mistakes—I do them recognizing full well they're slightly left of center. Perhaps I've replaced naiveté with delusion? :)

    Congrats on your short story! Downplaying is not allowed.

    VR Barkowski

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  39. Best of luck, DL!

    SOOOO exciting!

    Heather

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  40. Why you cringe DL? Ok, there may have been experts that made you feel less than, but I am sure there were plenty of other people around you who thought your effort/attempt/desire was much more than... I'm preaching again... it might have something to do with my Ok is Okay post today. It's been a while since I popped in, thanks for sharing your insights, your experiences mean I might not cringe so much when my time comes ... I hope :)

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  41. Maybe the rest of us will have a better, less cringe-worthy experience now that we can mooch off your experiences? :-) What do you think was the turning point for you, anyway (in terms of naivete versus being so motivated to still plug along).

    Good luck with the short story.

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  42. Congratulations on having your short story published!

    I agree that most normal writers are naïve when they start out. We all feel like we're perfect, don't need to change anything, and will be published and rich and famous very soon.

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  43. Thanks for sharing this interesting and educative information. I think many writers will find your contribution very helpful, I have equally learnt something from it.
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  44. I think you're right. Most of us are naive. None of us really know what to expect. I've had so many surprises pop up, even now, I just never know what's going to happen next.

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

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  45. There's nothing wrong with it, as long as you do eventually learn something, otherwise well...there's another word for that.

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