Reconsidering my profession ….

Started reading Story by Robert McKee tonight. It’s interesting, to think of the lost of story — good story — is the bane of modern writers. In just a few brief pages, I’m starting to think maybe I just can’t do this thing.

What makes a good story? We all know it when we see it, but before it’s birthed, what is it? McKee brings up so much “meat” in just a few pages … how, in the past, we all came from a similar set of values and expectations, and how writing about something as simple as “love” brings up hundreds of variations and leaves a writer scratching his or her head as to how to present a love story. Simply mind-blowing.

McKee asserts that anyone can learn the craft of story-telling … which is why I’ll be using my Border’s coupon on Monday to purchase this book.

But he’s absolutely right. Think about it. What was the last monumental story you read/watched/heard of? I’m not talking flashy CGI, or incredible music, but solid, fresh story? I understand the use of archetypes, but I mean something that made you feel … human?

I’m not really throwing in the towel, so all my well-wishers don’t have to send me encouraging comments. But I am fascinated with the process.

When I was in college, I was a decent writer. Things came easily for me (yeah, the student you loved to hate). Everything, except Dr. Covey’s classes. Oh, I did pretty well in etymology (always have been a word freak). But the writing classes … broadcast writing, advanced news writing … he use to give me grades lower than I felt I deserved.

I always “did the work” he wanted. Followed the form, completed to a “tee” what he said he wanted …but the “a’s” never came. So, being the consciousness student I was, I went to him and asked him what the deal was.

“You are capable of more, Gina,” he would tell me. “More? What do you want, and I’ll do it.”

“You are lazy. And until you learn the craft and stop being lazy, you will never be a great writer.”

I was angry. That was so, so … abstract? I thought I “knew” what he meant, but the truest essence of his judgment continues to rain down on me. So, through the years, I’ve done things … taken classes, made relationship with other writers to help with the accountability thing, taken jobs that “make” me learn more about writing …

Robert McKee is simply my next hurdle on the way to what I dream about.

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1 Comment »

  1. Andy Owen Said:

    To me, a professor that says something like that, isn’t telling the truth, but attempting to inspire. He’s planting a seed of doubt so that all throughout your life (like now) you’ll remember that he said that and continue to strive for something better. He may be an enemy to a lot of former students without them even realizing that it was because he said those things that they’re as good as they are now…but the sad irony is that they’ll never see it themselves unless he were to come read something you’ve written and say, “Well done.”


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