“Telepathy, of course. It’s amusing when you stop to think about it – for years people have argues about whether or not such a thing exists, folks like J.B. Rhine have busted their brains trying to create valid testing process to isolate it, and all the time it’s been right there, lying out int he open like Mr. Poe’s Purloined Letter. All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation. Perhaps I’m prejudiced, but even if I am we may as well stick with writing, since it’s what we came here to think and talk about.
One learns most clearly what not to do by reading bad prose – one novel like Asteroid Miners (or Valley of the Dolls, Flowers in the Attic and The Bridges of Madison County, to name just a few) is worth a semester at a good writing school, even with the superstar guest lecturers thrown in.
Good writing on the other hand, teachers the learning writer about style, graceful narration, plot development, the creating of believable characters, and truth-telling. A novel like the Grapes of Wrath may fill a new writer with feelings of despair and good old-fashioned jealousy – ‘I’ll never be able to write anything that good, not if I live to be a thousand’ – but such feelings can also serve as a spur, goading the writer to work harder and aim higher. Being swept away by a combination of great story and great writing – of being flattened, in fact – is part of every writer’s necessary formation. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.