One of the most nonsensical sayings I've ever heard in life is -

Those who can do; those who can't teach.

As someone who's seen magnificent teachers in action, benefitted hugely from their talents, and dabbles in the art himself, it always irks me. But more importantly, I wonder if those who use the phrase have ever known the joy of teaching.

This week it was summed up for me in an email, one which was so delightful I'm still glowing, a week on.

Last year, at one of the writers' schools where I was teaching, I did a one to one session with a lady about her novel. It was a historical thriller, beautifully researched and elegantly written and had great potential.


There was a sizeable flaw early in the book, which meant I didn't believe in the main character, Martin, doing what he was doing.

You hesitate about saying things like that, because to resolve the problem would mean effectively re-writing the whole novel, a huge task.

However, my dear aspiring author was both perceptive and determined enough to insist I explained my reservations, and then took them away to "have a think".

I didn't hear from her for two days, during which I feared she was in a rage or upset, or even worse seeking some form of lethal weapon.

But when she did contact me, it was to say she thought I was right and intended to begin work on revising the book.

We've kept in touch since, and last week... well, she did brilliantly in a big competition and an agent wants to represent her.

Result! In fact - RESULT!!!!

That's the heart of teaching for me. It can change lives for the better, as simple as that, which quashes any annoying sayings in an instant.

Before I end this blog, a photo from the week, because it was so joyful and made me think of what we do as writers -

Boy and birds.jpg

Isn't that uplifting? A young lad delighting in a personal experience of nature. Look at the wonder on his face.

And that's a great deal of writing - observing the world, really feeling it, and then passing on that understanding.