Thursday, August 31, 2006

Flashbacks

I wish I were talking about those scenes we create to hop back in time. Unfortunately, my most recent flashback experience was more the post-traumatic stress disorder variety. At the Columbus Writer's Conference, which was primarily a positive experience, one author's presentation reminded me so much of law school that I got an upset stomach and had to leave the room.

In my first year at The Ohio State University College of Law, each professor assigned three or four cases for each day's class and we came prepared to be asked to recite the facts of the case and the relevance of the case to the class subject.

Rather than calling on some unsuspecting victim, one professor opened his "lecture" by standing behind the podium and saying, "Questions?" Willing masochist after willing masochist raised a hand and asked a question to which Professor Question responded, "Nope. Next." This continued until ten minutes before the class ended.

Eventually, some student asked the "right" question to which Professor Q responded (with an enormous sigh) "I certainly wish someone had asked that to begin with." He then lectured for the remaining ten minutes, attempting to squeeze in fifty minutes of material on the merits of the case. Professor Q repeated this tact every class for two full semesters!

At the writers' conference, when author X began his "lecture" in the same manner, I couldn't take it. We all paid good money to hear authors, editors and agents tell us their methods, not to be belittled with statements such as, "Writing is an art. There is nothing to learn."

Perhaps I missed the point. One of my friends found his presentation refreshing. "I just need to go home and write." While this may be true, I only attend the rare writing conference in order to hear how someone else does it. I can "go home and write" without spending several hundred dollars to hear some lug tell me what I already know.

Or maybe this lumbering author of many novels has such an inferiority complex that he finds it necessary to hide behind an egomaniac ruse. If so, I certainly hope he reads the evaluations which no doubt reflect how ineffective his facade has become.

If I go to the conference next year, I'll pass on his diatribe. I already have recurring nightmares about law school. I don't need any of them brought to life.

2 comments:

Dan said...

I have to agree with the author's boorish remarks. Now, that I'm sitting here reading your remarks, a 100 things I could've (perhaps, SHOULD'VE said) spring to mind, especially with that "I can't teach you to paint the Mona Lisa."

For example:

I can't teach you how to become inspired to paint a picture like the Mona Lisa, but I CAN teach you how to paint the same picture. That's just a matter of technique. Once you master the technique, then when inspiration strikes, you'll have the skills to paint a picture as masterful as the Mona Lisa.

Instead, you're just being an ass. You fraudulently take Angela's money but then wash your hands of it with the lazy, "Writing can't be taught." Shrug.

His "I don't know how to answer that," followed by that shrug started grating on my nerves. Eventually, I left, too.

Dan said...

Of course, I meant, "I have to agree with "you about" the author's boorish remarks.

[Embarrassing when when I do that]