Yesterday I mentioned that writers have confusing and, at times concerning, browser histories. Because in the course of writing one, or many, books covering what could be multiple genres things come up we need to know but might be a topic we are not currently familiar with. I saw a meme that captured that theme quite well that had a writer in front of a laptop while another person stood behind the author and asked "When did you become an expert on wood carving?" to which the writer responded "Last night". It is not uncommon for us to learn something new and have that subject come up repeatedly for the next few projects until we find something new to strike our fancy.
When I began writing Sharing Strength, and then Survivor, I found out very quickly that Jasmine Byers was a photography enthusiast. She is the main character of Survivor and a major part of Sharing Strength. Her photography plays a big role in both books but there was just one small problem for me, I knew nothing about it. I can barely take a picture on my camera phone that comes out clear, let alone intelligently discuss composition and lighting. There is a moment in Survivor when Jasmine talked about the meaning behind the pictures in a competition she was entering and I understood the symbolism but even as I wrote the scene I found myself taking notes on parts of the conversation to look up and make sure I was using the correct terminology.
Subjects like that come up over and over in writing but there is another form of the "Jack of all trades" that many writers strive to be as well, especially in the Indie world. They want to be able to do everything when it comes to designing and publishing their books. From cover design and graphic art to formatting and marketing there are so many areas that are important to know. When it comes to this part of the "Jack of all trades" it si more vital that we become a more permanent expert than the temporary and fleeting version on the book topics.
I may not remember everything I read about photography but if I ever figure out how to format a book instead of hiring someone to do it for me it will be something I remember forever. The same goes with editing. The first time I handed a manuscript off for editing I got it back with notes about the number of "ands" and commas I used plus the fact I tend to mix up "wonder" and "wander" even though I know the difference. When I write I confuse words like that and when I read through for my own editing I didn't catch them. Now I do.
We learn two sets of information. One we use briefly and one we build upon to improve our craft. I enjoy both parts but I am thrilled every chance I get to put a new tool in my writer kit. It is a life long learning process but at least it is one I look forward to everyday.