Many years ago, when I first began creating and teaching my own local writer workshops – when I had a classroom filled with eager, hopeful, beginning writers – I presented a little skit. This was put together after a number of years of meeting people who said they wanted to write and be published, but were unwilling to study and perfect their craft and their skills. This skit was created out of desperation.
The skit starred me and a character named Maude Middlepath – I played both roles. It went something like this:
Before I get started with our lesson tonight, I want you to meet a friend of mine who dropped by. Her name is Maude Middlepath. Maude isn’t much on commitment, but what she lacks in commitment, she makes up in sweetness.
Join me in greeting Maude. Hello Maude. What do you have there?
Hello everyone. I’m so pleased that Norma Jean asked me to say a few words because I want to show you my newest hobby. I’ve recently taken up wood carving. [Maude gives a big smile.]
I decided to begin with something really simple at first. I’m carving a long-stemmed, hybrid, tea rose in full bloom. Want to see? I bet you’re really excited aren’t you? Here it is. [Maude presents a piece of wood that looks more like a stick than anything.] Isn’t it wonderful?
I really can’t take credit for this amazing work of art. I owe it all to the muse. I get ideas and visions in the night hours. I get the image of exactly what types of wood to use. The visions come to me almost full blown. Then I just head out to the woodpile and stand there and reflect for a time before choosing the perfect piece of wood.
Maude’s Friend, Sam
Maude Continues: I have this close friend named Sam who is a veteran woodcarver. He’s been a woodcarver for years and has excellent skills. So I called Sam and I says to him, “Sam, would you take a look at my woodcarving and see how I’m doing? Maybe you can give me some suggestions on how to get better at my craft.”
So we met at a coffee shop and I brought out my long-stemmed, hybrid, tea rose in full bloom that I was working on.
Well, Sam just sort of smiled funny-like. I’m sure he was amazed at how well I was doing with me just being a beginner and all.
Sam says to me, “Maude, why don’t you cut away some of that extra wood there? And then why don’t you do some polishing on the wood?”
“Well, Sam,” I says, “I don’t want to lose the originality of the vision that I received in the night hours. This is pretty much how I saw it in the vision.”
So then Sam says to me, “Maude, why don’t you take a course on woodcarving and learn how to do it better?”
“Aw pawsh,” I says to Sam. “You know I don’t have time for things like that. I’m too busy. And besides, that costs a lot of money. Why I have other things to do and obligations to meet. And besides all that, maybe I’ll get another vision for a carving in a log from my woodpile. Then what would I do with all those carving tips – it would be a waste.”
Sam stood to his feet just then and said he had to go. Shaking his head, he left real quick-like.
The Gift Shop
But ladies and gentlemen, I’ve decided just what to do about all of this. I know a guy who owns a gift shop and he specializes in woodcarvings. The way I see it, there’s just no sense in my spending a lot of time on the finishing touches of this tea rose. This guy works with carvings all the time. He ought to know what he wants. I’ll sell him this tea-rose carving and let him finish it just like he wants.
Come to think of it, I may sell him my entire woodpile!
Did my little skit changed minds about the need for hard work, study, practice, and preparation needed to become a published author? I could only hope so. I felt that Maude presented a pretty clear case! And I used that skit in my workshops for many years.
And who knows? Perhaps Maude can give you your own revelation!