Friday, January 16, 2009

Know Thyself

The columns in the photo above are the remnants of Apollo’s temple at Delphi in Greece. Literary agent Nathan Bransford asked his blog following yesterday to share the hardest part about being a writer. Last I checked, the post had close to 300 comments!

Something tells me that response is more than Nathan would have generated had he asked what is easy about writing. Look, it’s easy to focus on what’s hard, not just in writing, but life in general. Everyone can readily bemoan life’s difficulties, particularly their own. I’m no different, so I’ll try to keep my grumblings to a minimum.

Ah, I digress. I responded to Nathan that the most difficult part of being an author was to “know thyself.” Which, brings me back to the photo I took of Apollo’s temple. The Delphi Oracle, the voice of the immortal Apollo, dwelt there, giving out sacred wisdom and the divine whisperings of the gods. Supposedly, carved upon Apollo’s temple walls were three sacred sayings. One of these? “Know Thyself.”

Every author writes with a different style utilizing unique characters and settings and conveying their own experiences. Some authors are known for their vivid characters. Others made their fortune by having detailed descriptions of places or historic events.

The 300 of us that responded to Nathan’s blog identified what is hard for us. Each offered a different struggle. Good – we’ve identified our weakness. Every author also has certain strengths. The good writer knows his strong point and utilizes it to his/her advantage. He/she works around known weaknesses to accommodate shortcomings.

Here’s my point: if you don’t know your strengths or weaknesses as a writer, you cannot: (1) take advantage of your best skills and (2) hide your faults.

Know thyself.

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