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Scott Lax Blog

A Fearsome But Grand Vocation

With millions of new writers these days (given that blogging, not to mention tweeting, is by nature writing), I think that Reynolds Price, the prolific and accomplished poet, novelist, essayist and professor, had it right years ago, before blogging and tweeting. He's talking about teaching writing, but this can hold true for all aspects of the art and craft of writing, I suspect:

"American writing teachers are much too kind generally, too kind to the point of perjury. Flannery O'Conner, in her sidewinder way, said a dead-true thing: 'Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.' She apparently meant more or less the same thing that I mean by saying 'Quit if you can. Don't take this up at all lightly.' If the person persists and starts sending me his or her published books, then I'm often interested and try to like the work and say that I do. Writing is a fearsome but grand vocation -- potentially healing but like wise deadly."

Great writers like Reynolds Price are not accidents, nor are they glib and amateur bloggers, of which there are many. What's wonderful about the explosion of amateur writing on the Internet is that people are writing. That's good enough. But it doesn't make one a writer necessarily; it makes a blogger someone who writes. Reynolds Price is a writer. That's an altogether different thing from one who puts words on a page on a blog.

Which leads me to my conclusion: Read good writers, not just bloggers. If you're an aspiring writer, you need to read those who are professional and developed, like Reynolds Price. Read More