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:~: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 :~:

The Learning Curve

I'm in a glass class at my almamader this week: glass fusing, which is where you melt the glass in a kiln instead of how I've always worked with it--in the torch.

The class is fascinating. Our instructor is open and helpful and willing to show us any aspect of glass we'd like--not just fusing. Today I'm going to try my hand at sandblasting, something that has always interested me.

As I was driving home yesterday, exhausted from the sheer mountain of new information I'd been exposed to in just two days, it occurred to me that this was how I felt as I walked along the learning path to writing. And like glass, the learning path never really ends, it just twists and turns and leads to new interesting places and possibilities.

Eventually you become a master--which doesn't mean you know everything, it means you have a vast knowledge and know the many facets of applying that knowledge to create something of your own design, your own voice. (Yes, there are voices in art, too.) But that mastery takes many, many years of study.

One woman who writes craft, Elizabeth Lyons, said at a conference once: "A writing apprenticeship takes approximately 10 years. That doesn't mean you won't get published until you've been writing ten years, obviously. It means that you don't really understand all the facets and elements of writing until you've been working hard at it for ten years."

IMO, with my many careers behind me and years of study in multiple areas--medicine, glass, writing--I think 10 years is about right.

What do you think?



Blogger Linda Winfree said...

I think 10 years is about rigtht. I'm at 10 years of teaching and really hitting my stride. I sold after 9 years of writing -- and I think I'm seeing now how everything really comes together. :-)

My friend who coaches cross-country tells me it takes 9 years to develop a runner.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Wow - cool.

In my glass class today the teacher was giving slide show tours of factories. One of the most reknowned glass factories is Corning in New York. Our teacher told us that at Corning an employee is considered an apprentice for 5 years. At that point he is either taken on or let go.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

That sounds about right to me, too. I've been writing for six years now, and I feel like I'm a little past the halfway point. There are still so many things I'm learning, and still a lot of things that aren't automatic to me--things I have to go back and consciously add in as I revise.

8:12 AM  

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