[Clayart] fear of writing

William Schran wschran at twc.com
Thu Feb 2 14:51:49 UTC 2023

I don't know if I ever had a fear of writing, I just knew that I would
never be a good writer.All through my young life I didn't read much,
barely finished school reading home work and reading for pleasure was
not a thing for me. I always felt like a "visual" learner, show me how
to do something one time and I got it. With a piece of IKEA furniture
I never read the instructions, rather I would look at the diagrams and
complete the assembly without any problems.
It wasn't until I began teaching that I discovered my students were
all different kinds of learners. Some were like me, learned the most
by watching demonstrations of the various processes. Other students
instead wanted more of a descriptive path, written out step-by-step.
In the end my students needed both visual & written. I set about
writing process descriptions, often requiring many edits. I would
share these writings with colleagues asking if what I had written was
clear, if somebody without any pottery knowledge could understand
could understand the process. 
It was one quarter, a couple years into my teaching career, that a
young woman enrolled in one of my pottery courses. Her name, Polly
Beach, creator of the ceramic periodical "Clay Times". This was before
the publication became a reality but I had a sense she would make her
mark in the ceramics community.
Years later, we had the Internet, we had Clayart and communication
between like-minded became much easier, but waiting each month for my
issue of Ceramics Monthly and Clay Times was still a thing. I began
feeling more comfortable with my writing skills and contacted Polly to
see if she was interested in an article about crystalline glazes. She
replied someThing like, "Ok, we'll consider it". I was very surprised
when I got notice the article would be published in the Spt/Oct, 2000
issue. In addition to being published without any edits, one of the
works was also on the front cover. Polly had me write a 2nd article
about 10 years later as an update with discoveries I had made since
the 1st article.
I was also surprised and honored to have Mel ask me to write a chapter
and help with initial editing of his book "21st Century Kilns". I
wrote just like I would when explaining a subject to my students.....


William Schranwschran at twc.com703-505-1617

	-----------------------------------------From: "mel jacobson" 
To: "clay art"
Sent: Thursday February 2 2023 6:09:54AM
Subject: [Clayart] fear of writing

 In the last twenty five years running clayart I have talked to many
of you.
 I have been complimented often "you love to write, etc."

 I had to overcome my extreme fear of public writing. two things
helped a great deal.
 clayart for one. when I started telling my japanese stories so many
folks wrote
 back private letters with thanks. (notice lower case) in those days
there was a
 protocol to speak softly and tell your story. UPPER CASE WAS LIKE
 and best of all, if you just wrote from the heart, a few errors where

 Windows 95 was a huge jump for me. And then I got a copy of MS Word
and it was like
 a wonder. Spelling errors in red, green underline for silly
sentences. It was a Miracle.
 And when you start your story, do it in word pad. Don't edit, just
let the stream of ideas
 flow. Copy the doc and paste it into word, or some other fine writing
software. I know for sure
 that writing a fairly long story to clayart may take me an hour. I
re/write 5 times, re/read
 for content. A six paragraph story is at least an hour.

 Now the biggy. If you write "your story" you do not have to do
research. It is in your head.
 You lived it. no footnotes or professor looking over your shoulder.
It is you, alone, telling your story.
 People 40 years from now will not care about grammar, they want the
story. (thanks Terry, your story was
 brilliant this morning.)

 Ruth Butler, the former editor of CM helped me a great deal. I will
always be indebted to her.
 Another fine professional writer really helped me. This sentence says
it all. "There is no such
 thing as "writers block", the reason one gets stuck is you are not
organized with your story, so
 you quit." Sit down with a pencil, like making a drawing. block out
some ideas, then tell them.

 Ruth Butler told me one day on the phone..."potters do not write" and
many of them majored in clay in
 college because of writing fear." There are not many potters going
off to Harvard. They come from
 Junior College. And Ruth loved those people the best. Limited
arrogance. As I told fellow teachers,
 "hard to be arrogant when your crotch is full of wet clay." And
without doubt, a room full of kids
 loving clay had a special intelligence that no Harvard Professor
could ever have. There are many ways
 to be "smart".

 website: www.melpots.com

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