I’ve always liked people who are smarter than me. As much as I think I know, there are more people who know more. They’re challenging. They make me think. They make me realize that I’m not always right, and that’s a healthy place to be. I have a friend, Tad, who is a physicist. We used to have conversations about where the soul is. If you slowly replaced all the pieces of a human body with prosthetics or robotics, at what point do you cease to be human? What if your brain could be transferred into something electronic? Does you soul go with it? These days, Tad invites me to lectures at Stanford or NASA where I listen and try to keep up. I love being mind-boggled.
I also love finding writers who are better than me and I just found a winner–Susanne Lakin. I met her in passing at the Mt Hermon writer’s conference. Turns out that the editor that I met with about my book is her editor. He encouraged me to work with her because he likes her style and that’s what they’re looking for. It also turns out that she belongs to the same writer’s group that I joined in San Jose. I made the decision some time ago to get to know the dozen or so published writers in this group by reading their books. When Susanne had copies of her new book The Wolf of Tebron, I was excited to read it.
Susanne’s book is a lyrical fantasy-allegory. She also writes contemporary fiction, but The Wolf of Tebron is more in line with what I write, though miles apart. I love falling into a book filled with lush description and wonderful dialogue. Her allegory is along the lines of C.S. Lewis, but her writing is far more beautiful than his. She challenges my writing. I want that effect in my work. I read better writers and I write better as well.
People who are smarter and better than me don’t make me feel stupid. They make me want to be better at what I do. There will always be someone smarter, someone who will find more truth in a sunset, more vision in a hero. Those are the people I want to keep up with.