I often feel like the dumbest kid in the room. Like I don’t see or hear half of something being said. Like I’m too uncomfortable to use my voice and speak up when I’m lost.
I’ve been to many parties where people are talking about things that I know virtually nothing about like astrophysics. Or I know some things but nothing about the particular piece people are talking about at that particular moment. This usually happens with things like Magic the Gathering also. And writer parties remind me there are a lot of words I don’t know. Also Scrabble with anyone who knows medical terms makes me feel like an imbecile.
But none of that matters. None of it will stop me from being successful in life because it’s not only what you currently know that defines that. It’s your capacity and willingness to learn. Your ability to persevere.
There’s an old saying that reflects this well. “The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.”
I’ve always had this philosophy about writing that says the most important thing is reaching your audience. Quite often they might not be at the same level as you in education. People who have university degrees might not think about how many in the world have never been to any post secondary studies especially if their parents also have degrees.
But the word nerd in me wants to use big words sometimes. And I do when it makes sense to. When I can’t use something simpler.
I didn’t start out there though. It was getting professionally edited that helped me get there. Being edited also made me more cognizant of other cultures including other groups of English speakers.
Some books are meant to help you build your vocabulary. My French teacher had us find these books with a guideline that 1-2 words in each sentence are new to us. I’ll be taking a long break from my formalized French learning while I learn about screenwriting, but I’m going to continue trying to build my French vocabulary with simple reads. I imagine I could expand my English vocabulary using this same guideline, but I don’t know that it would make me a better communicator only more comfortable in a relatively small number of situations.
One of the things about screenwriting that I love is that movies reach more people. They are a medium that usually doesn’t care what your IQ is. You don’t need any special skills to consume them. With descriptive video, even the blind can watch a movie. With captions, the deaf can also enjoy a movie. They’re also quicker to consume for those with little time or extra challenges with attention. They are a medium that promotes equal access to knowledge.
You might have to have a background in something that does require advanced education to fully understand some aspects of a movie such as The Matrix. Having a firm grasp on IT concepts like schemas and permissions made me smile where others were confused about some parts but they were able to mostly enjoy and understand the films, so their lack of knowledge didn’t really matter.
There are books you read simply for entertainment. I like writing at that level. I aim to create page turners. Books that are hard to put down. I don’t want my reader to be off on the internet searching to understand my message. I don’t want them bored by too much description, but I want to give them enough to clearly picture something in their head if it’s important. They’ll probably learn something while reading it also, but it’s usually not my main goal.
But it depends on what genre I’m writing too. I put more description in sci-fi than I do erotica because the readers are looking for different things. The world is strange in sci-fi and setting the scene is crucial. Whereas, erotica relies more on letting the reader fantasize and many readers just want to get to the sex scenes.
It probably surprises people I know for me to say that I often feel dumb. For most of my life, I’ve felt behind in some way.
I write fantasy, but still haven’t read a Terry Pratchett or an Ursula LeGuin book. I’ve read the Hobbit, but not Lord of the Rings. I devoured the Harry Potter series and loved Magic Kingdom for Sale though. I grew up on Neverending Story, Garbage Pail Kids, Fraggle Rock, Astro Boy, Inspector Gadget, G.I. Joe, Mighty Orbots, Transformers, Space Ghost, and Scooby Doo to name a few. I loved the LotR movies. I used to play World of Warcraft and Dark Age of Camelot. I plan to catch up soon, but I love reading outside of my genre too. I’m currently reading Sophie’s World as I enjoy philosophy.
In French this term, I often felt dumb, but I learned that many of those in the class had been through this level before and that’s why they could speak faster and understand more than me. It wasn’t that I was dumb at all.
I often struggle to pay attention and it’s not uncommon for me to get completely confused because of this. When two similar yet different things are mentioned in close proximity, I’ll think it’s one thing. When I can see the words in front of me, I have less problems because I can reread the section. I get confused less often with films as unimportant things are not highlighted by the camera or special effects.
Despite knowing there are a ton of excellent films I’ve not seen and thus I’m behind again, I look forward to school while knowing probably only a teaspoon of the many gallons there is to know about screenwriting. I’m slightly concerned I’ll be lost, so I’m taking time to watch a few movies and learn some basic things to make my load lighter. But I am not worried if I out to be the dumbest kid in the room.
I’m eager to learn and that counts for a lot. I’m also tenacious AF.