Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stuff I've learned

One of the things I love most is learning. Love of learning is why, largely, I decided to go to a private liberal arts college when I don't need a degree for what I want to do. Write novels? You really need to go to school for that?

No... and yes. Writers need to learn things. And writers need to be able to apply what they learn.

I've been surprised at what I've discovered, and lots of those discoveries happen outside of a classroom. Some of them are little things, skills or facts that have surprised me:
  • The most efficient path between buildings when in a hurry.
  • How to store things in my memory short-term just for quizzes and tests. (This disturbs me. I never used to have to do this.)
  • How to eat a full meal in three minutes.
  • How to make macaroni and cheese anytime in the dining commons. (Stop waiting in line for it, people. The ingredients are at your fingertips.)
  • How to make conversation with random strangers.
  • Pocketknives actually are very useful. (I'll admit, I had one originally because I thought it was cool.)
  • If, as a writer, you go anywhere without a pen, you will regret it.
Some of them are bigger, more along the lines of guiding principles. Some of them should be obvious, but typically, they've been no less surprising:
  • There are a whole lot of people smarter than you.
  •  Ask questions. It's how you keep up when things are difficult, and people will surprise you with how kind they are.
  • Any plans you make to better your schedule will be waylaid by something else.
  • There is no end to opportunity. The hardest part is taking hold of it.
  • Don't take it for granted that things will fall together.
  • Sometimes, you have to relax intentionally.
  • Little sleep isn't the end of the world.
  • Everything feels better when your room is clean.
  • People are both more wonderful and less perfect than you think.
 Learning is the easy thing, especially where I am. The hard part is learning to apply what you've learned.

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