A lot of people got offended by a recent post of mine. Or, well, they thought the first sentence was offensive. And even though I wrote a disclaimer later on, I still got plenty of angry comments and stuff. And even though I’m used to people missing the point, I fear that too many have missed the point here.
So, let me explain. The post, or the first sentence (which is actually from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman) is not about teachers, as in high-school teachers. So if you teach Physics or Maths or whatever, you’ve got no reason to be offended. I have the utmost respect for teachers of any kind, and I believe education is the only way we can truly become human. We gain knowledge and culture and understanding of what it means to be a human being. So, yeah, that wasn’t the point.
What I have no respect for are how-to guides on writing (and their authors) if the respective authors haven’t written at least one viable piece of writing, even if it’s a short story. You can’t teach someone how to write, if you’re not really doing it, now can you? Books on writing should be written by those who are considered really good or great (I myself wrote a post about books on writing a while ago.)
Because you can’t really teach creative writing. I know the USA is the land of creative writing courses, creative writing workshops, and book clubs, but guess what? It doesn’t really work, even if the teacher is Joyce Carol Oates.
Because no artist, no matter how brilliant he or she is, can never fully understand or explain his or her process. That’s why DaVinci’s disciples weren’t really that great painters. That’s why Brancusi didn’t really enjoy working with Rodin.
Writing can’t be taught, it can only be learned. And there’s only one way to learn how to write: by writing. A lot.
So I have no respect for someone who thinks they’ve found some secrete recipe or formula to writing a perfect novel and they want to sell it to me for only $2.99.
P.S. You won’t be able to comment on this post, just so I can get some proper sleep.