Thursday, August 24, 2006

Learning the Craft with Bobby Jones

Dear Dead Beat,

Where is the best place to learn one`s craft?

As Captain Jack Sparrow might say, "On the Highe Seas, me Ladee."

Yes indeed, on the high seas of literary learning (see Bricklayers and Surgeons Need Not Apply).

Okay, here's the raw deal. You learn your craft by sitting on your netherparts and writing. But there's a catch. This is a catch most instructors of writing ignore, old Willie F. included.

Now Bobby Jones did not ignore this.

Bobby who? What novel did he write?

Dead Beat says, "Back off Buster, Bobby Jones is a golfer."

From 1923 to 1930 he won thirteen major championships and remains the only player ever to win all four majors in the same year-all before retiring from competitive golf when he was just 28 years old.

Now. Dead Beat says, Get this, he was an amateur.

He was professional in his manner. But not in it for the spondulicks.

So, one day Bobby Jones is on the practice ground watching someone 'practicing'. He drops his head, frowns. "What's the matter?" someone asks.

"He could be practicing for forty years, but it won't make a difference," Jone s says, " he's practicing the same mistakes."

So, my friend, learn your craft by writing, alone at your desk, by your computer screen, whatever, but check that you are not simply repeating your mistakes.

For that, find a friend who truly understands your writing and can critique it adequately(most friends can not do this). Find someone who will not allow you to repeat your mistakes.

Writing Courses can sometimes do this, but they are dangerous.

Writing Groups can sometimes do this but they are dangerous.

Find someone like Dead Beat. He holds you in no high regard like family. He does not ask you to practice, he tells you how.

In other words, write, learn from your mistakes, write, learn from your mistakes, write...

I'm on your side.

Write by yourself, ask someone wise for advice, learn from it and write again....

I won't desert you. This is only the beginning...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If writing courses and groups are dangerous and family and friends are unreliable, how can a writer tell when they are getting sound, constructive advice? Not being allowed to repeat mistakes makes good sense, but how is one to know if the mistakes are truly mistakes and not just poor advice?

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