REDEMPTION SONG BLOG TOUR: Idiotic Idioms: ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach’
I’m proud to be part of Laura Wilkinson’s blog tour celebrating her latest novel REDEMPTION SONG. Laura’s a bit of a renaissance woman: a writer of uputdownable stories, a gifted mentor, a meticulous editor and an empowering teacher…over to LAURA WILKINSON
There are a number of idioms that make no sense, but this is one in particular riles: ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.’ Generally speaking it’s complete tosh, but when it comes to writers and writing it is especially so. Some of the finest creative writing tutors are equally fine writers: Emma Darwin, Vanessa Gebbie, Jenn Ashworth, Bridget Whelan, Julie Cohen, anyone? I could go on. But won’t – we’ll be here all day.
Like writing, teaching is a skill and requires talent as well as training, and not all good teachers make good writers and vice versa. But to assume every author who teaches is a poor writer is baloney.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only a small percentage of authors can live by the pen alone and many authors work in a variety of jobs – some of which might surprise you. Teaching posts offer an economic lifeline to many and there are other benefits too.
There are writers, myself included, whose teaching feeds directly into practice, serving as a regular reminder that we are all lifelong learners if we chose to be. If I’ve worked with a developing author, a mentee or young pupil on the importance of rhythm in our prose, aspects of voice or building rich, three dimensional characters, I am more mindful of these crucial aspects of craft when I return to my own WIP. Often I learn from my pupils.
The analysis required in my role as coach, mentor and teacher has taught me how to approach my own work more analytically – vital when it comes to editing and redrafting. Also, teaching means that I’m ‘paying it back’ in some small way. By sharing my experience and knowledge, I hope to make a difference to aspiring authors seeking publication. That I am also a working writer gives me, I believe, a true and deep understanding of the challenges faced by those I work with: I’ve been there; I’m still there now.
It’s because of this desire to help others and improve my own practice that I’m delighted to be part of a new initiative launched in the autumn of last year: The Beach Hut Writing Academy. We’re a group of Brighton-based working writers determined to help other writers. It’s early days but feedback so far has been great, and everyone involved gets a lot out of it.
There’s a rich menu of courses on offer for 2016, beginning with an incredible conference on Saturday March 12th, where there’ll be a host of industry people as well as talks and workshops on aspects of craft and the business, including yours truly on a panel with the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy team. An unmissable event, so do check out the website here. If you’re a writer there may well be something for you.
So, ‘Those who can …’ be gone with you. Those who can, teach and do.
Laura has written three novels. Her third, Redemption Song, was published on 28th January 2015 by Accent Press. A fourth is due in early 2017.
Redemption Song is a story of love, hope and forgiveness; a captivating, insightful look at what happens when everything goes wrong – and the process of putting the pieces back together again. Here’s the official blurb:
If you lost everything in one night, what would you do?
Saffron is studying for a promising career in medicine until a horrific accident changes her life for ever. Needing to escape London, she moves to the Welsh coast to live with her mother. Saffron hates the small town existence and feels trapped until she meets Joe, another outsider. Despite initial misgivings, they grow closer to each other as they realise they have a lot in common. Like Saffron, Joe has a complicated past…one that’s creeping up on his present. Can Joe escape his demons for long enough to live a normal life – and can Saffron reveal the truth about what really happened on that fateful night?
Love is the one thing they need most, but will they – can they – risk it?
Thank you Laura for a great post. I’ve got my copy of Redemption Song (great title btw) and on page 59. I’ve met Saffron, her mother and Joe. Am I hooked? Put it this way, tomorrow may have to be cancelled if I can’t carve out the time to read at least another 50 pages today.