Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Wednesday, 07 February 2001

Got a note from Clarion, so now I know that they've both received my application materials.

When I was first learning to play racquetball, I played against a couple of people who were much better than me. (Admitedly, anyone who could play was much better than me, but these people were really quite good.) I learned a lot playing against them. But later, when I played against some people who were closer to my level, I found that I was learning at least as much.

Against people who were much better than me it didn't make any difference whether I made a bad shot or a fair shot or even a pretty good shot--unless I made a great shot I lost the point. Against people closer to my level that wasn't true. If I made a bad shot I lost the point, if I made a fair shot I stayed in the point, and if I made a pretty good shot I won the point. I found that I tended to make good, incremental progress playing against people at about my level.

Eventually, I got good enough that there were people who were worse players than me. (That took a while.) But I found that I could make progress when I played against them, too. I could do things other than just try to win the point--I could try to keep the point going. I could try difficult shots. I could practice a new serve.

I find that the same is kind of true in reading fiction. Reading great stories improves my writing. I learn a lot from reading them. But I learn at least as much from reading ordinary, good fiction--because it is a little easier to see why the story works. A little easier to see how I might apply some technique in my own writing. I even learn stuff from reading bad fiction.

Of course, reading great fiction is more fun

An unproductive day today. I'm going to give up and play games


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