Fear and Ignorance

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King

Aside from my annoyance at his use of ‘a lot,’ I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. King. Since the third grade I have been writing something–stories, novels, really terrible poetry. Yet I have never termed myself a writer. In part, it’s because anytime I tell someone that I write, they tell me about their novel/screenplay/memoir that they have been writing. Then I tell them great and don’t mean it.

One of the fascinating things about writing is that, save educational shortcomings, most people can do it. We can type or scratch out words to make sentences, sentences to make paragraphs, paragraphs to make stories. But as I tell my students, writing is a skill like any art or sport–just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you do it well. The analogy I usually use is baseball (I teach a number of athletes). Most of us, precluding a physical impediment, can throw a ball. But can we throw it repeatedly in the strike zone with high speed and varied pitches? Probably not. There are only a select few who can and even they must train. Just because I throw a ball for my border collie doesn’t make me Jenny Finch. Writing is the same way. Yet one of the mysteries of writing is that a writer can be brilliant and never make the majors, so to speak. On the flip side, a writer can be mediocre and sell millions.

The goal then, from my humble prospective, is to be good. Reading and writing in abundance are key. In addition, to bring the baseball analogy full circle, I impart the immortal words of Crash Davis: “You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance.”

Blogger Kristen Lamb addresses the issue of calling oneself a writer in her recent entry “Don’t Eat the Butt.”

Please check out the links to various writers and blogs that I find interesting. Also, be on the lookout for more content about craft in the coming days.

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Categories: Write On | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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