Book reading

September 24, 2011 at 5:13 am (inspiration, Studio and Environment) (, , , , , , , , )

Last night my favorite Author, Neal Stephenson was in town. I went to go see him, it was your usual sort of book event. Go to the Bagdad Theater (manage to get front row seats), Participate in the t-shirt “egg hunt” (found three, gave away two) listen to the Author read from his new book (Reamde) and listen to the Author answer questions from the audience (deeply nerdy, largely socially awkward, mostly intelligent) .

My political science husband got up and flustered Mr. Stephenson by asking him about libertarianism (my understanding of what he said was that he likes libertarians but the practice of libertarianism doesn’t seem to bring people more freedom, besides if he wrote his books to express his politics they would suck.) There were of course the aspiring writers looking for some amazing bit of wisdom that would make their writing career launch and the writing easier. I loved his response. “Writing is like cabinet making, its not an art, it’s a craft.” He went on to talk about how you have to write 10,000 pages before you become good at it, and that if you want to become a great writer you have to literally keep writing and writing. Sounded familiar to me as a potter.

I’ve done my 10,000 hours of pottery, I’ve estimated. I crossed that threshold somewhere in the past year. Over the past year I’ve recognized that my work has improved dramatically from where it was even three years ago, when I moved to Portland, much less to where I was when I got out of college. Writing is also something that I enjoy doing, so to be told that I’m going to have to put my hours in working on writing makes a deep sort of sense to me. I find it much more comforting than the strange idea I got as a kid that people are just good at something’s, and they get that way only because God or genetics. Basically, you had to be special at it.

I think I missed out a lot because I didn’t think I was any good at it. It has been very liberating to me as an adult to realize that I can become good at something if I really want to. That id its something I care about and or enjoy, I’m not stuck at the same level for the rest of my life.

To hear that idea repeated by one of the people I most respect in the world was really nice, and gives me hope for my writing skills. I haven’t spent nearly as much time writing as I have throwing in the last few years, but then having a best friend whom I had to write to in order to converse has given me a good start. Being back at a full time job sitting in front of a computer is probably going to give me a push, during my sacred 15 min breaks.

On the other hand, I do miss my time in the studio. 😦 But then things have been too insane for me to fall into a healthy after work schedule yet.

P.S. Reamde is pronounced by the author as “reem-dee.”


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