I sat in front of Rosalyn yesterday evening, debating on what to write for the next sentence in my article. I had chosen to write about ‘photoluminescent exit signs’, which I knew next to nothing about.
I grabbed my angry orchard and took a drink, and sang along with Five Finger Death Punch as I thought. And it suddenly occured to me. . . “I can drink beer and listen to rock music while I’m getting paid! Well if that isn’t cool as shit.” I said out loud, and grinned.
While article writing isn’t my normal genre, I’m not inexperienced; I wrote for the school newspaper and was the copy editor while I was in high school. As a freshman I had been accepted to take the sophomore English class ‘expository writing’, which centers on essay writing. I hated the class. I didn’t plan to write essays through my life so I didn’t see a need to take it.
For my entire school career, I received nothing but ‘A’s’ on any English related paper. I wrote my first essay for the class, and when it was returned I was horrified to find a big fat ‘C’ in red pen on it. I felt sure it had to be a mistake.
After class, I approached the teacher – an older, dignified, slightly mean looking woman who very obviously took her job seriously.
“Can you explain why I got a ‘C’ on this paper?” I asked her.
And here we are at today’s quote.
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” – Leo Tolstoy
The teacher took the paper and lowered her glasses to look at it. Then she looked up at me, and looking over those same glasses said simply, “Because you’re capable of better.”
I stared at her in shock. She wasn’t wrong. She had called me out on my half assed essay. I didn’t like the topic, I didn’t like the style of writing, so I had put just enough effort into it to complete the assignment – no more and no less.
I had walked into that class with the knowledge that I had been selected to take it, that I was good enough at the subject to be skipped ahead of my peers. And was immediately brought back down to earth with the poor grade and her observation of me. “There’s no doubt that you’re a good writer,” she told me. “But I’m going to need to see a little more effort if you want to see an ‘A’ like you’re used to seeing.
It was that class that took me into writing for the school newspaper, and the knowledge has served me well through life, surprisingly. I’ve helped Matthew with school work using the methods I was taught, it comes in handy while emailing professional emails for work. . .
And now with this venture, I’m seeing its value once again. Many of the same rules apply for writing articles for this online company as did for my expository writing class.
I was selected to write for this company and another one as well, which again gave me a confidence boost. But with the acceptance of my first article came some critique that brought me back down to earth. I received a lower rating than I had anticipated. With the subsequent article approvals from yesterday, I did raise my rating a little – but it’s not the highest rating. I still have improvements to make. The editors suggested a book to purchase on the art of content writing, so as soon as I got home and got my home life situated, I sat down and researched the book – and in turn made the almost $20 purchase. It seemed to have some beneficial material in it, and if it’s going to raise my ratings and thus my income, I’m all for it. I’m all for learning to be better, because obviously I have room for improvement. I don’t know everything.
The cool thing about this job is that while I can do what I love in the comfort of my own home, I am also learning things. The company provides a list of topics, and my job is to research them and provide the information that I find in the article I write. The topics vary significantly – from cooking and gardening to different trades and services that others can provide consumers. I continually find myself drawn to topics that deal with maintaining homes. I have a slight background in the area, having been the maintenance supervisor for a realty company for a couple years. From that job I know a little bit about a lot of different topics. . . Just enough to be able to claim that I’m knowledgeable.
Turns out, I’m not as knowledgeable as I think I am.
“Ooo! ‘demolition’. I can definitely write about blowing shit up,” I said to Matt as he stood in my doorway Sunday evening.
Yeah. You guessed it. Demolition is more than just ‘blowing shit up’.
That’s all this quote means. It means that you have to have the knowledge that you don’t know everything. You have to recognize that there are things that can be taught, things that you can learn. I’ve given several examples of tangible things that I thought I knew a lot about and was shown differently.
This also applies in regards to who we are as a person too, though. You have to be able to recognize that just because you’re in your thirties, forties. . . Hell, fifties or sixties, that the world quite likely has more to show you. That just because you’re grown, doesn’t mean you’re done growing. I have known for a very long time that I have a lot of growing to do, and while I know that I am slightly knowledgeable about many different aspects of life and in several different areas, I can always learn more. There’s a lesson in everything, if you open your mind to the concept. None of us are perfect, and we all have our own learning curve. That’s what makes us human.