Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Admit it, You're an Idiot!

One of the big problems with teaching creative writing is that almost all neophytes imagine they are far FAR better than they are, and (especially on the internet) dare to tell them that they are NOT and risk their wrath.

It's bizarre that this happens in and around writing but not much in other fields. The soccer player soon realises how far off he is from being a top pro. The fledgling piano student has to spend years on scales, learning music, exam after exam, maybe 15 years before being HALF good (and still not a genius.)

Brain Surgeon? Yeah, just get a degree in 4-5-6 years, then serve a couple more on about 90 hours a week, then a few more working with a consultant. Now you might be ready to work under supervision.

If a teacher tells you you really are shitty, that shouldn't be a problem. You should realise that ALL beginners are crap. Your teacher was an idiot, too. It's false hopes, unrealistic views that are dangerous. These are made worse by false praise, people being kind (which actually means they are cruel), and worst of all, the self-congratulatory praise in 99% of internet "writing groups" followed up by cross-publishing each other. Have you ever looked at the qualifications of that particular editor of that particular ezine? Have you ever wondered how big that competition was that X won?

Anyway, I found this today, by Ezra Pound.

The scientist does not expect to be acclaimed as a great scientist until he has discovered something. He begins by learning what has been discovered already. He goes from that point onward. He does not bank on being a charming fellow personally. He does not expect his friends to applaud the results of his freshman class work. Freshmen in poetry are unfortunately not confined to a definite and recognisable class room. They are "all over the shop". Is it any wonder the public is indifferent to poetry?

1 comment:

The Boot Camp Diaries said...

As I've said before, I'll delete anonymous posts out of hand. Another cowardly one zapped.

But for the record Boot Campers have won first prizes at at least 67 different venues, with over 100 different judges, and that's just the winners. We've also had two seconds, two fourths and half a dozen last 50s in The Bridport Prize. twice won BBC World Service SS of the Year...

1010 Prize
All About Writing
Alsop Review
Bank Street
BBC Northampton
BBC World Service SS of the Year
Best Romantic E-Book
Boston News
Buzzwords Fiction Prize
Buzzwords Poetry Prize
Café Doom Dark Fiction
CiN Marathon Prize
Columbus Dispatch
Dark Tales Fiction Prize
Doorknobs Dorsal
First Writer
Guardian/Virgin Trains
H E Bates Prize
Hellen Mullin Award
Killie Adult SS of the Year
Kings Lynn Fiction Prize
Kings Lynn Poetry Prize
Leaf Books-CiN
Leaf Books Open SS Prize
Leslie Garrett Prize
Lichfield Prize
Literary Info Fair, Canada
Mid-Atlantic SCBWI
Milton Keynes Speakeasy
North Eastern Arts Council
NWG Radio Short
Once Written
Orange Labyrinth
Pencil Prize, Ireland
Philip Good Memorial Prize
RIM Short Story Prize
Scorched Earth
Seventh Quark
Slingink Eurofiction Prize
Southport Writer
The European
UK Authors Comp
UK Writers SS of the Year
Valley Writers Guild
Williamette Fiction Award
Winchester Prize
Women's Network Prize
Word (Canada)
Writers Desktop
Writers Express
Writing Writers
WWW SS of the Year