Tuesday, March 7, 2017
On Writing – Part 1: The Rant
A recent conversation with a friend about writing courses has been bugging me for a few days. My friend has done significant research in the techniques of writing and has started giving courses at a local bookstore/book space.
That is all great and I support people in any way I can by telling friends or by simply sharing their events. However…speaking about the courses, I found that my friend has a basics course and will be giving a characterisation course. Still, that's great and I'm thrilled for her.
But, what I absolutely disliked it how she looks down upon some of her students. She's picky at EVERYTHING. But that's her choice. I'm not one to judge; everyone is picky about something. Still, I didn't like the way my friend goes about saying people lack the skills and she wants the crème de la crème – as we say – to work with.
The thing is, no matter how good you are, others will be better and the whole point of giving a course, spreading the knowledge that you have acquired is to teach, raise awareness and enhance skills.
In Egypt, we are not native English speakers, but that doesn't mean we don't know anything about anything. There are a lot of people who speak – and write – very good English, but not all of them have the skill to write a short story or a novel. Still, it is a talent that can be "acquired".
They may not have it now, but they may have it later in life. They may not have it in English, but the skill might present itself in Arabic, for example; they just don't know it yet.
Writers of poetry, short stories, novels, plays, creative fiction, non-fiction, technical writers… all these are writers; each of them does things differently.
The bottom line is, no one can judge a person as a bad writer.
An example I love to use and constantly remind myself of whenever I feel I'm not doing a good job of writing is Amy Tan. She said – or at least so I've read – that her English teacher(s) in school told her she didn't have the knack for writing and that she should never consider the career. Well, Amy Tan is well-known and highly respected Asian-American novelist now. (Beat that lame and undermining English teachers).
No matter how much you know about something, there will always be someone who knows more. As writers, it is NOT our job to judge one another but to encourage one another, even if that includes or involves some editing, notes, suggestions, recommendations. What the writer decides to follow or ignore is purely their choice. But at the end of the day, we must encourage each other. Whether these writers are native speakers, non-natives, young, old, smart, slow, highly-skilled or still at the beginning of the road to self-discovery, they must be encouraged. Not put down or suffer a selection process that may exclude people with potential but who require some hard work.
At least that is my opinion.
I wouldn’t be where I am if I weren't a reader to begin with and a researcher of all things writing-related. And I'm still learning, as I believe every writer does throughout their life.
In case I digressed, my point is you can't call someone a "bad writer" simply because you were probably one at some point, a starter that is. Is there such a thing as a "bad writer"? If yes, who can be the judge of that?
I doubt even J.K. Rowling can tell a person they're a bad writer, simply because her books were first turned down because publishers didn't 'see them' as having good prospects. Look where she is now.
Every writer needs guidance. As a fellow writer, poet, reader, your job is to provide such guidance. What the recipient takes from you is their choice.
Every person can be a Writer.
How every person handles their work, writing courses, you name it, is, at the end of the day, their own business. But I just can't let someone call other people "bad" writers, and look at the condescendingly, because they think they're better.
I just can't.
And I'm ranting here to avoid losing a friend.