Recently, I picked up a copy of Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. It was a very wise decision. I’ve often avoided reading books about writing. When I have picked them up in the past I have often found them less than helpful. Writing itself has always been my best teacher.
Why then was it different this time?
I have been and am writing. I have works in progress. I am in the midst of learning by doing and it has made all the difference. Reading Card’s work was an encouragement as truths I have learned were advocated by another, and a blessing as new insights brought near instantaneous answers to questions I’ve been wrestling with in real time lending clarity to current projects.
It is too easy in our day and age to study then do, but I think the greatest benefit of study is found when it is melded with continued activity. It is more real to me when the questions are mine and of my own experience. I am convinced that given time I would have learned all of these things as he did. It is the truth of the path. But, the counsel of one who’s gone before is guaranteed to save some time if the ground is ready for the seeds.
Make the ground ready – work! Study is a fertilizer of sorts. Devoid of the right ground, it won’t help your garden at all, but in the proper environment it will most certainly bear fruit.