Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Importance of Learning From Someone Who Does What You Do.

One of the things that hit me suddenly was that I, until now, have NEVER had a professor of writing who taught speculative fiction and who wrote it. 

I have had four writing professors in three different locations. Only the one I have now is teaching and writing in the genres I want to be in. 

That. Seems. Bad. 

And it means academically some of us as genre writers are being short-changed. 

Not that I didn't get great professors before. They were great. Lovely human beings. But they taught either non-fiction, or contemporary, or my favorite of them, who played Ernest Hemingway look-a-likes and always came into the room with a sun hat, was a poet. A professional one. 

But, nobody was doing what I wanted to do and needed to learn how to do better. In a difficult profession like this, that's a boat-sinker. 

Mentors can save you a lot of stupid detours in the roads of life. Don't be overbearing or weird about it, just find people teaching the closest thing to what you want to do as possible. This is kind of hard unless it is in an academic setting. I have seen writers tear each other down to stand on the backs of those they've thrown. That wouldn't even be permitted in the gallery sect, where each of us was literally hoping to get some of the same funds. The market is adjusting to indie publishing, and right now, it is kind of saturated. 

That's depressing. But it's a damn good reason to find people who are successful standing in the arena you want to be in. Writing groups are okay, better I think if they feature experts. But, you get a lot more time with an expert if you have one as a professor.  

I'd like to see more genre-specific writers in all their variety as professors in local universities, but right now most of what I have found exists in distance learning specific courses. And so far, so good. My class has covered a lot of material and we are only half way finished. 

And, until now, I hadn't noticed how much I missed by not having that. 

So, whatever it is you write, find someone doing it better who is willing and able to help and inspire. And don't forget how important it is to lend a hand to those who need it once you succeed. 

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