So you can read my books

Monday, August 29, 2011




Many of you enjoyed my post on writing enough to ask me to come back. And to answer your question : yes, spirits watch movies.

I enjoyed the first MATRIX. The second not so much. The third not at all.

But I am here to talk writing not movies. I have read many of my friend Roland’s posts, watched the videos, and disagreed often.

Take what the esteemed Mr. King said : “ Writing cannot be taught.” He is wrong. Do not blame him. After all, he is but alive, boxed in the prison of his mortal mind.

But what a thing to say to struggling writers! Most of you are filled with self-doubt and uncertainty – as are all novices. And what do you hear?

Writing cannot be taught. Genius cannot be taught. And so is killed hope.

No, Mr. King, writing can be taught, genius can be awakened.

You wrinkle your face and mutter, “But genius is so rare.”

Ah, my friend, you, too, are wrong. Genius is as common as the dreams of dogs.

Have you not watched your pet, twitching and softly barking, as he is caught in the throes of dreams?

Every dream, every nightmare, reaches deep into the well of imagination and of magic. If common dogs can tap into that reservoir, surely you can as well?

To say that writing, that genius cannot be taught is to place limits on your mind.

If you begin by putting limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work, into your mind … into your entire being.

There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. But you will die fully alive!

A man must constantly exceed his level.

Ask a successful writer how he wrote his famous novel, and he will become uncomfortable, muttering about the unconscious and how writing cannot be taught.

Not so. He just does not know his own mind. How many do?

Do not listen to ignorance. Instead focus on your own mind and heart. Anything which blocks the path to self-awareness, prune from your life. Be it drink, food, or habit, if it blurs your sense of who you are, it must go.

Study the Masters of writing. Get a sense of their technique. But beware copying them. Though they play an important role in the early stage, the techniques should not be too mechanical, complex or restrictive.

If we cling blindly to them, we shall eventually become bound by their limitations. Remember, you are expressing the techniques and not doing the techniques.

Let the words flow through you in your own unique way of looking at life and at others.

Do not become the slave to your or anyone else’s expectations. In writing as in Jeet Kune-Do, one does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.

If you see a bulky sentence, strip it down to its essentials. If you do not, the reader will simply do it for you, skipping ahead – and perhaps missing the key phrase that was meant to add life to your novel.

In creating a statue, a sculptor doesn't keep adding marble to his subject. No, he keeps chiseling away at the inessentials until the truth of its being is revealed without obstructions.

Thus, contrary to other disciplines, being wise in Jeet Kune-Do and writing, doesn't mean adding more.

It means to minimize, in other words to hack away the unessential.

Like limits. Grow strong in writing, in your daily living. Drop the chains of what others say is possible from your mind.

There are NO limits. There is no spoon.

There is only the limitless horizon. Good journey, my friend. I will be watching.


  1. Excellent and inspirational. I like the bit about dog-dreams. I may use that!

    I guess I never thought much about King's "Writing can't be taught" comment.

    To me I read that and infer that he can't do it for me, that he can't tell me how to write. I never thought of it as uninspiring to say that to a writer, but in fact saw it as a simple statement of truth: I can't teach you to write.

    Ergo, writing cannot be taught.

    But can it be learned?

    Sure. Go learn to write.

    As you say, awaken that part of your brain that inspires you. I call it coming unhinged. Too many of my stories are hinged and bound by fear.

    I need to write with more abandon.

    Courage cannot be taught. It can only be learned.

    Bruce puts it right, that you must push yourself. He didn't push for you, he said, "If you die, you die."

    It's about finding that thing inside, and that cannot be taught, anymore than you can teach me to write like Roland.

    But it can be awakened and learned. You are absolutely right about that.

    One of my favorite Roland posts here. Very nice.

    - Eric

  2. We visited Bruce and Brandon Lee's grave on my recent trip to Seattle. It's a beautiful memorial.

  3. 'One does not accumulate but eliminate'.

    Wise words, thank you.

  4. Eric :
    I am very glad you liked this post. I put a lot of heart and thought into it.

    Art teachers don't start their classes saying, "Painting can't be taught."

    Any more than medical professors say, "Being a physician cannot be taught."

    If they did, many students might well get up, saying, "What I am doing here then?"

    Feel free to adapt the "dog-dream" analogy to your own ideas. Bruce would smile.

    I can teach others the basics. It is up to them whether to put their heart into it or just go through the motions.

    Your comment made my morning, Eric.

    Matthew :
    I would have liked to have visited there with you!

    Sarah :
    Thanks for liking my post. Have a great new week, Roland

  5. I'm loving these guest posts by Bruce! And not just because I'm a huge fan. :) 'There are no limits,' wise and wonderful advice!

  6. Sure, writing can be thought. And there is no limit to our imagination. All we can do is follow our dreams and write our best story. :)

  7. Thanks for enjoying Bruce's guest-ghost posts, Heather :

    If you keep on, he may demand equal billing! LOL. Roland

    Laila :
    I agree with you. Our imagination is the only limit to our prose, for the mechanics can be learned if we apply ourselves, Have a great new week, Roland

  8. The Matrix definitely needed to end after the first movie.

  9. Oh, and thank you for your comment on my blog. That was such an interesting history!

  10. Lydia K :
    The wall-climbers fight sequence and the interstate chase were good in Matrix 2. But like you and Bruce Lee's spirit, Matrix would have been wise to stop at the first one. The second and third ones were like drinking tea made from the same tea bag the 2nd and 3rd time!

    Hadacol, being 12% alcohol,as a perservative :) , was certainly popular in dry parishes here. There were many a teetotaling Southern Grandmother who had to have her daily bottle of Hadacol!!

    I'm glad you enjoyed my comment and Bruce's wisdom. LOL. Roland

  11. ANYTHING can be taught.

    True, some people may have natural talent to begin with. In the Outlander series I'm reading the first book was the author's first attempt at novel writing and it is pretty darn awesome-- and by the sixth book she is REALLY good.

    Time, practice and experience benefits everyone.

  12. Love this post. There is a difference however, between a creative mind and a person who can just write. An artist or a typesetter? Writing down the facts is one thing and elaborating on them is another....

  13. Great post, Roland! I had no idea Mr. Lee was such an expert on writing. Too bad he didn't write a book on it -- definitely could have rivaled King's On Writing.

  14. Jo :
    Hearing that comment from Mr. King disturbed the teacher in me. Like you said, what the harvest to our sowing becomes depends upon the condition of the soil that receives it!

    Always good seeing you here.

    The Desert Rocks :
    Undoubtedly what you say is true. Still, each of can learn to be better than what we presently are. Not all of us can Hemingway (nor should we try), but we can be a better US. Thanks for dropping by.

    Milo :
    Good seeing you here again. What Mr. Lee wrote of martial arts and living can easily be applied to writing -- which I did with a humble nod to his spirit!

    Have a great mid-week, Roland