Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Are You Smaht? Paht II

Just a quick side bar before we start today's Smaht Session.

I received another form rejection for my query yesterday afternoon, so that makes two. I also received a form rejection from another agency from last September 16 when I queried this same book. It's a good thing I wasn't holding my breath waiting to hear from them. Four months on a query? Hhmmmm...I think they need to hire a secretary or something. Although she also said if I had something else for her to look at, she'd be delighted, but not until after May. Yeah, no, somehow I don't think so. Good thing I didn't send her this query.

Okay, as you all read, I have a bachelor's degree. My major was Native American Ethnology, my minor was creative writing. I went to a hippie college in Vermont where you wrote, and read, and read and wrote, and then wrote some more. Some colleges make you write thesis' at the end of the term, well, we wrote thesis papers for everything. Which is where I learned to write. When we graduated we had to give a lecture based on the culmination of all the work we had done at the college and present it to the students and faculty. (Kind of a nerve wracking event actually and really a very big deal.)
There was a professor, whom I never studied under, (and I respected enormously) come up to me after my lecture and say that my presentation was just as good as any dissertation written by a grad student. I was overjoyed and blown away, and just basically in awe because I never thought I was that smaht.

Which is why I am so (still) blown away that my query actually got a request for a partial. When you are told by your friends who read you work,"oh this is fantastic" do you believe them? Or do you think they're just telling you that because you want to hear it? If someone REALLY SMAHT told you how good or bad your writing was, would that make a difference in what, how or if, you continued to write?

I for one don't know the difference between a dangling particple and a modifying clause but does that make me a bad writer? I think the only two rules I ever remembered were " i before e except after c " and "not 'that' -- 'who' -- when speaking of people" Just because I have a bachelor's degree, does that make me smarter than the person who doesn't? I don't think so. Just because I don't know the difference between the above mentioned, does that make me a bad writer. I don't think so.

As I said yesterday, I have read some really interesting work over the blogosphere these last few days and have been blown away by the quality of the writing. Does that mean I think they're smarter than I am? I don't know. I know how to do a lot of other things in this world besides write, and some of them really well, does that make me smarter than they are? I don't know.

And so gentle readers, the questions for the day are -- do you think you're smarter than the average person? And do you really need to know all the rules of grammer to write a fantastic book?


Lady Glamis said...

I don't think I'm smarter than the average person, heavens no. The only reason I got 3.9 - 4.0 grades in school is because I know how to work hard. That's it. If you sit me down for an IQ test, I'm afraid the results will be pretty devastating. Oh well. I know how to work hard, and that, to me, is what makes all the difference.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "write a fantastic book." That is all so subjective. One person may think my book is totally awesome, while another might think it's the dumbest thing they've ever read. And what is smart anyway? Someone with a lot of degrees? Someone who knows more mundane facts, more history? Someone who can dazzle you with their intellect? Or is smart my three year old who knows that going outside to play is better for her than sitting in front of the TV all day?

I didn't read your post about this yesterday, sorry, so I could just be rambling senselessly, and I'm on pain meds, so excuse anything that doesn't make sense. I should just not be commenting. Oy.

Simon C. Larter said...

Well, since the average person, by definition, has an IQ of 100, then yes, I guess by the numbers I'm smahter. But the definition of smahts kind of leaves something to be desired, since my auto mechanic might not be able to solve third-order differential equations, but sure can rebuild a motor. I can't tell you the difference between a Malbec and a Merlot, like my brother the sommelier, but I can give you sixteen different ways to rewrite any given sentence.

If, like Forrest Gump says, stupid is as stupid does, I think the opposite will also apply. Smaht is as smaht does. :)

Nicole Ducleroir said...

I agree with LG and Simon. Smart is tricky to define. And, are "smart" and "intelligent" the same thing? My personal definitions are intelligent is the capacity to learn, and smart is what you are when you've learned something. I think you appear smarter when you've sought out more knowledge, or when you've been exposed to more things/experiences.

I have a lot of interests and seem to always be seeking out more to learn, but if a newcomer meets me and asks me to demonstrate my math skills...he'll think I'm dumb as a door nail.

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you all for the great comments.

Falen said...

yes and no.
My understanding of the english language was never officially taught - i dodn't knwo what an adverb or an adjective were until i started ot get serious about revising my work. But all that stuff, that can be fixed.
as for being smarter than the average, i do believe i am just based on the experiences and relationships i have with the people around me. I don't think it's a big deal though. I have a good friend who told me he was surprised i was his friend because i was so much smarter than me. But he didn't realize that he was much much smarter than me regarding business and money. It all evens out and it doesn't really matter in the long run. We're all individuals

sarahjayne smythe said...

I don't think I'm exceptionally smart. I have known a lot of people that I consider much smarter than I am.

But it's true that smart is subjective.

One of the things that I've learned as a teacher is that I can be constantly surprised by students who show little or no interest in 'conventional smarts' but who have the most amazing other talents, skills, and intelligences.

Piedmont Writer said...

This has been a really fun and interesting post. Thank you all for your generous comments.

Dominique said...

I don't know if I'm smarter than most. There are some things in math or French that I might do better than a portion of society, but in mechanics or Farsi, I'm behind the curve. It would depend on the barometer one used.

I do think IQ is a highly overrated concept though. I've met some people with 'gifted' IQs who I wouldn't have pegged as 'smart,' because they were goof-offs who couldn't seem to buckle down and get things done. And I've met some people whose IQs didn't break the bank whose knowledge on a bunch of topics could leave me in complete awe. People who work to have knowledge will have it, and people who don't seek knowledge won't.