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Scott Lax Blog

Don't Be Discouraged by the Greats

I'm reading Tobias Wolff's, OUR STORY BEGINS, his most recent collection of short fiction. He's a master at the short story genre. He's so good that there are moments when I wonder if he's writing from another dimension.

I've learned not to get discouraged when reading the greats like Wolff. I learned this many years ago, when, as a young drummer, I went to hear perhaps the greatest drummer of all time, Buddy Rich -- not once, but three or four times. Buddy was a freak of nature. He was to drums what LeBron James is to basketball -- maybe even more extreme.

I was a professional drummer. I had to come to terms with the idea that I wasn't, and would never be, Buddy Rich. And I'll never be Tobias Wolff, or write short fiction like him.  Read More 

Greatness and Humility

The greatest writers in history were not arrogant, know-it-all ranters. They were often full of self-doubt. They were humble. They understood that the better they got, the farther they were from their potential. This paradox was part of their greatness. Humility gives an artist the need to probe his or her depths in the quest to be better.

This paradox reminds me of some self-help gurus: the motivational weight-loss speaker who's tubby; the financial wizard who makes her money by speeches about making money; the religious wing-nut who is filled with animosity toward the "other."

When a writer boasts, be it on a Web site or on a TV show, you might want to look elsewhere. You won't find beauty, or wisdom. You'll find empty conceit.  Read More