A smart kidThere are two axioms by which Mr. Grady Gillis lived. “Find people smarter than you to do the things you don’t want to do.” and “Help others reach their goals and you’ll reach yours.” I learned that as I wrote his memoir, and found them to be reliable.

When he said “smarter” I’m sure he didn’t mean they knew everything about everything. He meant they were skilled in areas he wasn’t. In that way, I was as much a part of his axiom as I was an observer of it, in that I was contracted to write his memoir.

Let’s face it, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging them is part of maturity and growth.

So how does this axiom apply to us?

First, we must acknowledge the fact we don’t know everything about everything . . . especially writing. Yes, we may be published, and yes, we may even teach writing techniques. But there are always areas in which we need help. For example, how is your research going? Do you dread having to go to Google, or Wikipedia or the Court House and plow through pages of boring entries until you find the nugget of truth you were looking for? Or how about sitting through hours of critiques and having your life’s work ripped to shreds by some red pen welding know-it-all? (ouch!) And then there is the editorial process. Yes, the final step in your march to publication. Not! “We are sorry to inform you that your submission does not meet our publication goals at this time. Thank you for considering XYZ publishing. God Bless and keep writing.” Yuck. Can you believe it, I wrote that by memory?

So we’ve come full cycle. “Find people smarter (skilled in areas you are not) than you to do the things you (either can’t, won’t or) don’t like to do.”

Application? Join a critique group. Join a book club. Share your manuscript with them and learn from your mistakes. Secondly, write about things which interest you and your research will take on new meaning. Find ways to internalize this information so you can write about it in a conversational way. That way you avoid the pitfall of information-dump.

Water cooler smarts

“Years ago, I asked Google, “What do scientists talk about when standing around the water cooler?” Their answer . . . “We have no idea.” Oh well, Google doesn’t know everything, and neither do we. So go talk to a scientist. Find out what they talk about when not in the lab tinkering with beakers and Bunsen burners. You may get more than you bargained for, but at least you found someone smarter than you and asked.

Isn’t that, after all, what it’s all about?

Be watching for book two in the Jared Russell Series . . . Power Play!