Kieren McCarthy’s written about the Net, Vista, journalism and remote controlled planes in a typically epic post – but almost in passing he nails something I think about a lot.
I know a fair amount about a comparatively tiny number of things. But thanks to being a journalist where I write about subjects publicly all the time, I have been forced to realise two things:
1) Most people reading your article know less than you do about it – which is why you are there, writing it in the first place
2) A certain number of people reading it will know far, far more than you do and will balance in their minds whether the educational aspect of the article, outweighs the countless errors contained within it
Deep down all writers know this, I suspect, but it’s all too easy to focus on just one of them. I tend to focus on 2), which is why when my stuff hits print or Web I don’t get excited: I’m just waiting for the people smarter than me to come a-criticising. I tend to forget about Kieren’s first point altogether.
I do think that, to survive as a writer with your sanity intact, you need to embrace both points. 1) without 2) makes you cocky and arrogant, but 2) without 1) makes you paranoid. Better to embrace both and let the first point fire your enthusiasm and the second point keep you from cockiness.
[Via Charles Arthur’s blog]