In The Footsteps of Greats / by Kenneth Buff

Learning from the past. We all do that, right? No matter what our profession. You could be a teacher, a doctor, an auto mechanic, doesn’t matter. You’re as good as you are because of the people before you. That’s assuming you’re a professional. Maybe you just do this for fun. You like to mess around in the woodshop on weekends, or maybe you just like to tinker under your hood on your nights off, see if you can get more power. But what do you do when you stuck? Youtube? Google? We all study our craft, no matter what it is, no matter how Laissez fair we may be about it. We all learn from the greats. You think those guys you found on a random forum off of google aren’t really greats? They’re just pizza making enthusiast, not Johnny Di Francesco. Maybe you’re right. But who’s to say? Maybe Pete-zza really is one of the best modern chef’s, and he’s choosing to share his knowledge with you. Maybe he’s just a good pizza maker, and not great. Maybe, the whole idea of good and great are just bullshit abstract terms that have no bearing on what is actually good. That one seems like a bit of a stretch, but maybe it’s not really that far from the truth.

My point is, we all learn from what's come before. We build on our own personal greats. For me, for my writing career, the greats of the genres I write in are Asimov, PKD, and Doyle. The working greats who work in my industry are Hugh Howey, Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and Joanna Penn. These are the people I watch and learn from, they’re the greats of my present, I study them as much as I study the greats of the past.

Who are your greats? Who inspires you? What drives you? My inspiration primarily comes from movies and novels. Stories told by other people. They’re what fuel me to be better. Seeing other great art makes me want to improve my own art. Makes me want to shine my writing, improve my prose, cut my bullshit and get to the story, the thing the reader came for. Which leads directly into what drives me. The need for improvement, for the next book to be better than the last, for the next story to be something that someone somewhere will want to read, and will want to read more of. That’s what pushes me to study my craft, to push out my words, and publish them for other eyes to see.

 Who are your greats? Everyone has one. Tell us yours.