Have you read the Alexander Chee article about learning to write with Annie Dillard?
It's beautifully written and boasts all sorts of valuable thoughts on ego and writing. One of the most memorable lines came not from Dillard or Chee, but from Chee's father:
"Whatever it is you want to do, find the person who does it best, and then see if they will teach you."
In the old days, they called this an apprenticeship. I'm a writing apprentice, willing to unquestioningly wax on and wax off for the right person. That's what I'm doing when I read Speak for the 50th time, when I read On Writing and Stein on Writing and A. Victoria Mixon, Editor, the blog that recently mentioned that Donald Maass's book The Career Novelist is available for free download. (go 'nap it!)
As far as I know, Laurie Halse Anderson (aka, the person who does it best) isn't accepting any mentees, but if her book-eating daughter tweets that she LOVES a certain writing essay, I'm going to read it with an open notebook and poised pen. Does that make me a neophyte? Do I care? In the new age of life coaches, blogs, and tweets, I'm still an old-school apprentice learning my craft.
*I searched high and low on the Interwebs to find a poem I love called "I the Graduate" by Ted Joans because I think it complements this post. It's not widely booknapped, so it's probably not well-known. That's a shame, 'cause it rules. Read the whole thing on the ultimate booknapping site. Here's a taste:
I graduatedDo you read writers writing about writing? Why or why not? If you do, how 'bout some recommendations?
From my mom's womb
From childhood and family
From villages/towns/and cities
And stagnant allegiances
And fad conformity
From it all