García Márquez on authors and pilots

“I’m happy when I’m traveling to know that the pilots are better pilots than I am a writer.”

—Gabriel García-Márquez

I love this quote from brilliant Colombian novelist Gabriel García-Márquez (1927 -2014).

While García-Márquez, a truly gifted and original writer, is being modest, he also raises an important point. A pilot must demonstrate technical skill and mastery to practice his or her profession form the outset, while an author grows into the profession and undertakes much experimentation – much of which works, much of which does not.

When we climb on a plane, we expect that our pilot is technically competent at his or her job.

Yet an author is constantly evolving. An author can radically changes styles or genres throughout his or her career. He can be profoundly influenced by external factors or life-changing events. His  writing skills can alter radically throughout a long career. In the end, an author is always learning and honing his or her skill.

While the same is true for a pilot – the more experience and flight hours a pilot has under his or her belt, the better the pilot becomes – the basic skills and expertise must be present from the moment of passing the pilot’s license.

A writer – even one who has been successful – can never rest on his laurels. Each blank first page of a new novel begins the trial of writing once again, struggling with the self-doubt that comes with each new project.

We all hope that our pilots go into each new flight with far more confidence than your average writer when tackling a new novel, but I hardly think the talented García-Márquez had much to worry about…

Happy writing (and flying!) to all!

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