Monday, October 11, 2010

On Writing

I wasn't much of a writer in high school and didn't get a lot of encouragement either. Fortunately I fell into the hands of a great prof at university who believed students needed to learn how to write if they were going to learn how to think. Tom Graham taught us how to read and how to write and in the process to think. I will always be grateful to him for his fourth year methods seminar, one of the hardest courses I ever took and one of the most helpful.

Now Ben Myers has written this wonderful post on the writing life and I recommend you check it out.

I still struggle with this aspect of writing:

4. Writing and discipline. The self has a tendency to leak and dribble. Left to itself, it loses all definition, becomes a shapeless puddle. Writing, like ritual, is a cast into which the self is poured. Writing is care of the self. ‘He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem’ (Milton). A book is a few seconds of inspiration plus a few years – or a lifetime – of discipline. You cannot have a campfire without the first spark, but the spark is useless without the slow labour of gathering wood, building the fire, and maintaining it when it begins to die.

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