My Day at a Workshop: Part 2

It's usually about luck. Make your own luck I've heard over the years. Where? How? I think it was Socrates (or one of them Ancient Hellenes) who said that hard work will inevitably pay off.

The seminar was presented, presided, narrated, hosted - you name it - by Guy Lawson. A journalist of repute who had his work published in places like the New York Times, Harper's and GQ. Gay Quacks. Kidding. Gotta love workshops that begin "I've never had to go through this but...I guess I was lucky." Yup, I guess you were.

It reminds me of my former senior partner at an investment firm. "I was lucky. I came into the business before it was saturated. I never had to make a cold call. I don't believe in it. Too bad for you that you will have to do it." Yup, too bad for me.

As the day went along Mr. Writer grew on me but one of the students in the group made it a point to irritate this mild-mannered blogger. I know this to be true as she told me in a nightmare. She specifically said, "I will irritate you tomorrow at the workshop. It will turn into a torture chamber for you. Then, we will make love like two insane squealing seals from Sable Island." It wasn't quite like that. You know dreams. One minute they're real, but the second you get up to go wash out your mouth you can't recall its contents with any reliable accuracy.

Regardless, towards the end of the day, Mr. Lawson began to talk about - without explicitly saying it since it's a dirty word these days - morals in writing. He essentially spoke about how responsible a writer must be. That accountability and integrity does and must play a role in a journalists personal ethics. That sort of stuff. Values I absolutely agreed with. Everyone nodded in agreement. Though I openly wonder on this page how many truly meant it.

To his credit, it was refreshing to hear a successful writer tell things like it is. He did not refrain from offering his comments, for example, about the New York Times. In a short phrase? It's overrun by incompetence. That, in general, the whole industry is packed with nepotism. Gee? Really? I didn't notice. No matter; the Times always gets a pass. I recently heard some sports writer still consider it great writing. Oi. Some can do no wrong, eh?

He didn't stop there. He went as far as to make known his feelings about some guy called Martin Finkle (I can't remember his name. Could have been Sprinkle, Spankle, Spank Me. Whatever). It stunned most of the people to hear such candid opinions. Lawson brought the example of an article this chap had been made up. It was fictitious. Like Greek mythology. In his opinion, that sort of dishonesty is simply unacceptable. It spoke volumes about the character of the writer. I agree.

But not to the girl in my class. She took issue with this. She knew the writer in question and proceeded to defend him. It was an awful display of moral relativism. In a nutshell? In her world - and by her logic - he was completely innocent because the editor told him to make up the story. She went on and on about how he's a guy who lives on the edge blah, blah, bling but what startled - if not angered me - was the willful denial of personal accountability. Regardless of the editors faulty intellectualism, it was ghastly that she would defend this person. That they both admitted to the story being a piece of trash ad conspired to blame another person astounded and intrigued me.

Look, I understand that sometimes in life we get pushed into a corner and that forces us to perhaps do things we shouldn't. It happens - though you should guide yourself in a manner that allows you to avoid those predicaments to begin with. Nonetheless, I'm willing to offer amnesty every once in a while.

Not in this case. No one held a gun to his head. He had a choice. He made the wrong choice by his own free will. You can't defend the indefensible. No one bought her argument but she kept hammering at it. It was modern decadent intellectualism.

Alas, these are the days - the Zeitgeist if you will. A word kindly reminded to me by Contratimes blog.

I asked him, as a matter of record here, about the great mythology scholar Maureen Dowd. But that's for another time.

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