Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I know nothing. . .

So I'm dating myself: is there anyone else out there who watched Hogan's Heroes and remembers that line by the German sergeant, "I hear nothing, I know nothing"?

Well, that's how I feel. The other night at the fabulously organized Inside Story, someone came up to me and asked if I was still teaching. If so, he wanted to sign up for my class.

I said I wasn't teaching, and then added, "The thing is, I don't know anything anymore." I'm sure he thought I was being coy/modest but the sad fact is that I was speaking the truth. The more I walk this writing tightrope, the more I realize how thin the wire we tread.

I can feel things -- like that there should be one more beat in this paragraph, or one less statement of emotion in that paragraph -- but I sure as heck don't KNOW any darned thing.

I so admire writers who are confident of what they know.

I'm just not one of them.


  1. This is so interesting to me. At a conference I attended I noticed with several panels that the "younger" authors had a lot more to say than the more established ones. I kept thinking, "Great. Great advice, now I'd like to know what SHE has to say." But those authors just let the others take over. I admit it was a little disappointing.

    Another author said they didn't know how to give beginning writers advice anymore because they had forgotten all the mechanics. It had all moved from their brains to their gut.

    So I think this might not be anything to feel sad about, but I'm glad for all the advice I got out of you before you decided you didn't know anything anymore!

  2. I know exactly what you mean! I always feel like I couldn't possibly teach a writing workshop because I write so much through my senses and not necessarily my knowledge. A good post, Kirby..

  3. There must be something in the air today; I felt/expressed the same thing in my blog (

  4. Yes, I totally understand this.

    I love leading workshops -- but when I do, I approach them first as a student and then present them as: Here is what I learned and how it might help you.

    But KNOWING things? That is something else entirely.