Sunday, June 27, 2010

Learning From The Masters

My writing improved the more I wrote - and the more I read good writing, from Shakespeare on down.

Dick Schaap
We never really know how good some people are at doing things until we try to do them ourselves. I know that as a young actor I came across behaving as if I knew a lot more about it than I did. I know that because over the years I've seen other young actors come on with the same ignorant bravado. It wasn't until I got to work with older, more experienced actors that I began to learn. When playing a scene with a better actor he would demand more of me than I thought I knew. So I learned. I am grateful for the years of challenge.

So now I write every day. My complete Shakespeare, which I cherish with all my heart and about which I have written many times, is always at my elbow. Every single page shows the genius of great writing, poetry and drama. I also read great philosophers and historians. I can't read as easily as I used to because of my poor eyesight. So I have to use a magnifying glass. So what?

And now I paint. Some of the artists in the local art association of which I am a member are excellent artists. Do I feel intimidated by them? Maybe I do, a bit. Do I feel squeamish hanging my paintings next to theirs? Not at all. So far no one has indicated that my work doesn't belong there. In fact last weekend, during one of our exhibits, one of my pieces was prominently displayed. I enjoy viewing the other artists' work and try to avoid any hint of "ignorant bravado." I'm too old for that anyway.

Real artists don't compete with other artists, they compete with themselves to make it better. So whatever you do, keep doing it and keep your eye on the true experts. You will inevitably do it better.

So you didn't care for last week's Who Done It?
All right, try this one.


It was an early September in the afternoon. The sky was darkening and a storm was threatened. But Dick and Jane needed to reach the other side of the lake. So they got into their canoe with two bags of groceries and Maxine, their Chihuahua. They began paddling across the lake and everything was going well until....

Grand prize goes to the one who gives me the best continuation of this story.

Good luck.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Practice does make us better. Now, what to practice...

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I do agree that doing something over and over does make it easier and sometimes better. I have so many things I love to do and often vary what I do so I don't know as I'll ever perfect anything, but I do have fun.

Ben said...

I once heard someone say that practice doesn't make perfect, it makes consistent. That's where things like working with the more experienced actors, reading the best writers, etc., comes in. A thought-provoking post as usual, DB.