Growing in your own backyard

The other day, I was reading this Salon piece, where a writer “rejected by the world” isn’t quite sure what to do next.  Reading this it struck me that we have such misconceptions about how people become good writers.  The whole notion that you have to go backpacking across Europe and live as an expatriate in order to write probably has its roots in the fact that twenty-year-olds don’t have a lot to say about the nature of the human condition, and sending them off to find out a bit about the world can only improve them.  But there is actually no relationship between backpacking across Europe and being a writer or improving your craft.


I remember coming across the same sort of thinking when I started training in martial arts.  The fact that I learned so much about myself and the world in a strip mall half a mile from home did not impress people, let’s just put it that way.  For my experience to have been valid to them I would have had to trek through Nepal to a remote mountaintop, found a guru who didn’t speak to me for ten years before finally agreeing to take me on as an apprentice, and then, and only then, would the true mysteries of the martial arts been revealed to me.


Which is all a bunch of malarkey.  You know how you get good at anything?  You do it.  Whether that’s in your basement, the corner coffee shop, or the park down the street, all that matters is that you do it.