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Thank goodness for good taste!

October 24, 2013

In her classic text on creativity, Julia Cameron says, “Learning to let yourself create is like learning to walk. The artist child must begin by crawling. Baby steps will follow and there will be falls—yecchy first paintings, beginning films that look like unedited home movies, first poems that would shame a greeting card.” She argues that learning to create—to write well—is a painstaking process. Aspiring artists must first be willing to be bad artists.

Ira Glass, storyteller and NPR host explains why: “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste…. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.”

The members of our writing group haven’t quit. Each fall we set goals and deadlines. We are willing to be “bad”—to share clunky first drafts and germs of ideas and to rework endings again and again. It’s painful to present imperfect work but thank goodness everyone else has good taste. Each reader helps each aspiring writer to identify strengths, zero in on weaknesses and unearth hidden potential. We present rewrites, new endings or something different altogether. And slowly, slowly we make progress.

Congratulations Alison Colvin for being short-listed for a writing contest for the second time this year!

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