Friday, February 10, 2012

Learn from the Past!

If you read good books, when you write, good books will come out of you.
Natalie Goldberg

I know as a child, had it not been for the mistakes that my parents made, would I have ever learned right from wrong. We learn from other people on the road of life, and it is through them that we decide what we’re going to do or where we’re going. Right or wrong, we’re going to step into the unknown, make a choice, and stand firm in our decision.

I read something that was quite funny yesterday from a student. “What can we learn from the ancients. Times have changed. Move on.” After I readjusted my jaw after it dropped and hung there for a spell, I replied gently, but firmly. This person wants to be a writer, but doesn’t want to learn from writers that have gone on before him/her??? How logical is that?

This person’s exact words were this and I quote: “You know what? I thought this class was to help us become better writers. Not, to learn how to intrepert writers from hundreds of years ago. Hello, times have changed. Our understanding of ancient writers is NOT going to help us attract the interest of that potential agent. Are you REALLY here to help us??? We're not here to be impressed by the accomplishments or knowlege of your experience.”

After you get over the grammatical errors, learn something quite pivotal from this statement. This person is in writing for the money. Not the knowledge they can gain from writers and accomplished writers who came before them who achieved greatness because of their skills in the writing world. How does this young student EXPECT to attract that potential agent, if that person has not gained one bit of insight from from those ancients such as James Joyce, Shakespeare, and Sorry Mr. Bradbury, but you’re thought of as an ancient tool in the writing world.

I cannot imagine a world of learning not being shaped by the thoughts and techniques of men and women who have gone on before me. I learned to write poetry, not by some new aged rapper, but from the elders in the field. First Shakespeare, Frost, Tennyson, Byron, Dickenson; just to name a few. They didn’t teach me, but reading them and dissecting their work, I gained knowledge of the flow, the artistic stance in their words, the paint they used to place a portrait in my mind. Had I not read them, where would I get my information? Knowledge? Know-how?

Are we expected to learn from the new age and times? Sure times have changed, and I haven’t seen much in the way of, for-the-better, either. So what am I to take away from the statement, “What can we learn from the ancients?” You will learn this my friend, just what your FUTURE holds!

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