For its faculty members, Worldview Academy is like a traveling cloister. We migrate from campus to campus each week, largely disconnected from the news of the world, absorbed in our own never-ending conversations. One of those conversations this week has been about Herman Melville's Moby Dick, a classic I am reading at long last, and the circle has widened to include the great books in general, the craft of writing, theme (or, in the case of Melville, 'sinister intent,' as my colleague Jeff Baldwin insists on saying), and imitation. I've been arguing that, if an aspiring writer could only do one thing to learn his or her craft, it should be reading a wide variety of great books. Everything you need to know you will find on those pages. Refering to secondary 'how to' guides may help -- but it can also be detrimental, because sometimes the rulebooks tell you not to do things that the great books do all the time.
To which Jeff replies: "But you're no Cervantes!"