Monday, May 17, 2010

What's That?

Our good friend Adam Slade's debut novella is out today.  Be a pal and buy an copy here or here.

You know the old saying, 'those who can, do; those who can't, teach?'

So, I get to work today, and the captain happens to be a simulator instructor.  These guys make a ton of money, but spend most of their time in a building, watching others basically play a big expensive video game.  Well, there's no one to instruct these days, so he's back to flying real airplanes.  And he was a bit rusty.

The problem is, he seemed to be half-deaf.  I was kind of tipped off when an alarm started ringing in the terminal, much to everyone else's consternation, and he said, "Doesn't bother me.  I'm half-deaf."

I thought he was kidding, but every time I said something, he shouted, "What's that?"  Made conversation a challenge.  In the silence I compared this situation to writing.  If those who can, do, and those who can't, teach, what does that mean for people who teach writing professionally?

Some of the best coaches in professional sports were pretty lousy players.  Good enough to earn a spot on the roster, but they rarely got in the game.  Instead, they sat at the end of the bench, studying the game, learning the nuances that made them great coaches later in life.  As a flight instructor, I didn't do much flying.  I sat next to nervous students who made all kinds of mistakes.  By watching them, I became a much better pilot.

But what about writers?  The logic doesn't seem to apply here.  If you are a great writer, it shows on paper.  So how come some of us haven't made it big yet?  I know good writers.  I read blogs of great writers (at least one of whom actually teaches writing).  As much as I hate networking, I think that's where the problem lies.  As good as we think we are, we can all improve.

We need to get out of the simulator.  Meet other writers.  Join a critique group.  Attend conferences.  Just being around other writers, reading what they've written, listening to their critiques, not just of my stuff, but others as well, has made me a better writer.

Let's face it, we all want to keep moving forward.  Otherwise, you could end up having the conversation I had this morning, while taxiing toward the runway.

"I think you need more power to get up this hill."

"What's that?"

"Dude, you gotta get out of the simulator every once in a while.  We're rolling backwards."


Adam said...

Thanks, for the pimp, Matt! :D


Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Writing is a very solitary business, that's why I love my critique group and social networking on the internet. Don't know what I'd do without them.