Thursday, January 5

"You don't know anything."

Have you ever been told that, because of your field of study, you don't know anything? Or maybe you don't have a specific area of expertise so people think you know nothing. The line may have been delivered nonchalantly, or the speaker may have seemed intent to knock you down a notch. Either way, the message was delivered.

I've been told that, too. I usually think about disagreeing but decide to go along with the speaker in order to avoid an argument. Love conflict in fiction; hate it in real life.

But the statement remains inaccurate.

Using my own field of study, English and writing, I can tell you what I do know and how much is open to me to learn about.

As a writer, I have to know how to use the language I write in. I use knowledge about English grammar and punctuation (and slang, phrasing, word choices, et cetera) to construct my sentences when I'm writing. Often when I'm editing, that knowledge helps me see problems and areas of confusion and choose how to correct the issue. I have to know when and how to end a sentence and paragraph and how to begin new ones...and how to string them together (something I sometimes have fun ignoring on my blog). I need to know the rules of English in order to avoid confusion and communicate clearly, either by following the rules or by bending them.

Now, fiction writing. Not a very useful field, right? I don't know a thing about science or economics or architecture or bowling alleys or underwater basket weaving. Right? And I certainly, stuck in my fictitious realms, don't know anything regarding how the real world works. Not a single thing. Right? Of course right.

Um.. No, that is inaccurate.

As a world creator, I have to know at least a little bit about a lot of real things. Including science, economics, architecture, and possibly even bowling alleys and underwater basket weaving. Also, how people relate, different personalities, skills and trades, weapons and fighting, religion, politics, terrain, travel, music, culture, and more. Essentially, the world is my field of study.

One of the reasons why I love being a fiction writer is because I get to know about tons of things without focusing too much or too long on one thing. Call it A.D.D., call it the inability to settle down, call it geekiness, call it being a homeschooler (not the same thing as a geek), call it curiosity, call it a lack of depth. Whatever you want to call it, I love it. I don't need to be a scientist or an architect or a professional kegler or a scuba weaver.

Other people can be those things. That's fine. I say more power to them. It's just not for me. That doesn't mean that I know nothing, and that's not to say they only know about their specialty to the exclusion of the rest of the world.

"You don't know anything" is a sadly arrogant statement. It shrinks God's vast creation and diminishes the one spoken to simply because the speaker focuses on a different area of expertise.


  1. Hmm... As a Nine, you won't disagree with someone insulting you in order to keep the peace. As an Eight, I want to find whoever this person is and punch them in the face for you!

    "You don't know anything" is not really an okay thing to say to anyone. It's dismissive and controlling. It's said to silence you and your knowledge and opinion. While I like this post, and I appreciate the thought you've put into what you've said here, you shouldn't have to defend your training, knowledge, or profession to anyone. There isn't anyone in the world who "knows nothing".

  2. Lol, I'd say that's an accurate assessment. Also, as a Nine, people generally don't know what to make of me when I do take a strong stand for or against something. The result can make the situation more uncomfortable or more comedic.

    Exactly. :)

  3. As a Five, I have never allowe...I mean had someone say this to me ;)

    "You don't know anything" is a coward's argument. And the next time you hear someone use it, you should tell them so.

  4. A person attempting to gain superiority while dishing out inferiority ~~ a dime a dozen.

    Smiling, nodding, turning your back, walking away with your chin up and all the things you "know" ~~ priceless.


  5. In other words, as a writer, by being a jack of all trades, you become a master of one!

  6. Bahahahaha, I can believe that. I'll have to look up the description of Fives again.
    I might just do that. We'll see. :)

    lol, Cynthia.

  7. That's kind of the hope, Thomas, though it could take a lifetime. :)