Friday, June 28, 2013

Writing: Learning From Other Writers

I mentioned on my Facebook page that I'd recently re-read Lawrence Block's excellent book, The Liar's Bible. That and Block's book, Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, are writing books that I find both instructive and entertaining. The same can be said for books on writing from writers like James Scott Bell. I've had the privilege of hearing Jim Bell speak, and although I haven't had the same opportunity with Block, I'd love the chance. These are men who have walked the walk, so they can talk the talk. And, believe it or not, writers often have an ego that's large enough it keeps us from wanting to hear advice about our work. Go figure!

I once worked with another ENT specialist who proudly said, "I've never had a post-operative patient bleed after tonsillectomy." I discovered that he could make that statement because other doctors, such as I, were taking care of those patients. When I choose a physician, I don't want one who thinks he's perfect. I want one who can admit he's made mistakes and learned from them, hopefully so he won't make the same mistake in my case.

So must it be with writers. When we think we know it all, watch out. We don't. We never will. Writing is a continuing learning process.

So, what do you think? Have you ever read a book by a writer whose work you previously enjoyed, only to find that apparently they'd gone stagnant? Think they might have decided they know it all? Let's hear your opinions.

(The photo is of Lawrence Block--Jim Bell's much better looking, he says)


Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I agree that as authors, we will never reach the place where have nothing else to learn about writing

Richard Mabry said...

We can always learn, can't we? Thanks, Lena.

Steve Hooley said...

Good point. When we think we know it all, we're in trouble. I've learned there is no correlation between confidence and ability. And sometimes it seems there is an inverse correlation. Like you, I prefer to have a physician who knows he's not perfect. In medicine, maybe that's why we call it the "practice" of medicine.
As a new writer, I'm enjoying the continuous learning. I would be bored if there weren't always something new to learn.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Steve. I agree--we have to continue learning, whether we practice medicine (wonder if that's why we call it "practice") or write.
Appreciate your comment.