Keywords: #art #craft #writing
Hey guys! I'm so excited right now I just had to overflow some enjoyment I had from a book I started reading recommended by K.M Weiland: Write Away by Elizabeth George. I've hardly made it past the preface and she's already answered a lot of questions I had! Simply amazing.
In her preface she makes a clarification; writing has two distinct and equally important halves, art and craft. She goes on to say that she has longed believed in the mastery of craft, but that art itself cannot be taught. Craft being the tools of the trade, techniques, basic knowledge, and a guide to the writer. Then to take it even further, craft is likened to *soil* that you put your seeds (ideas) into to nurture them unto full maturity. However craft alone will not make you the next Shakespeare, but without it you will face more difficulties as an *unschooled* writer is how she phrased it.
The second aspect of the writing, art, is the inspirational wave of ideas that we so often get. This is the mysterious part that's SO intriguing. But put together with craft makes a lot of sense. Like peanut butter and jelly right? Bonnie and Clyde, the east and west, the left brain and right brain.
Building upon this, she says that writers need to have a thorough knowledge of the *tools* of the trade. Then she delivers the following quote:
"But make no mistake about it. Developing a process means learning a craft because process itself comes from craft. The art of writing is what you get to do once you become familiar with the craft."
AWESOME. Now I have some direction and revelation on the subject at hand. Art and craft. Learning and understanding the craft is essential to producing or discovering my writing process. Nothing grows without soil. A seed is one of the most powerful things on the planet, containing the inexplicable nature of life itself. But without soil, it's not only practically stripped of inherent power, it becomes utterly useless. The seed requires the soil, and the soil needs the seed. It's beautiful.
So this is my interpretation so far of the revelations I've received from Elizabeth George. Craft is not only necessary, it's transferable from writer to writer. Hence, all the writing books and material. The *understanding* of craft is equally necessary, if not critical to our own writing process. Maybe to put it into my own terms; it seems like art is the water, while craft is the hose or medium through which our inspiration must flow, grow and be nurtured.
This also indicates that our muse, or inspiration, is trainable. Without craft muse is like a wild, wild horse that needs to be tamed. It's almost like having an idea to build a house yet without possessing tools to build with, or a locomotive without tracks to guide it to its final destination. Two wings are necessary for flight these to me, are art and craft. Two feet are necessary for walking in order to distribute the weight of your body and maintain balance. I believe these feet are art and craft. When I first started entertaining the thought of being a writer, I often thought how do I take my idea and make into a story? I just found the answer. Well, at least in part.
Lastly I'm pondering the two diametrically opposed quotes from Hemingway and Elizabeth George. One says we are all apprentices in a craft of which there is no master. While the other believes the mastery of craft is not only possible, but critical in developing our own writing process. This is delicious food for thought. Guess it depends on how you perceive it. Hemingways thought I believe, is referring to the art side of things, while Georges thought refers to both writing aspects with a result. Art, craft, then process. I believe both authors are correct. No one can master art. It's an unpredictable animal. On the other hand craft is definitely teachable.
The *master* that Hemingway speaks of resembles perfection, which we all find elusive. I think this is more of an erroneous subjective concept that we tend to tolerate. It's a myth. To me, perfection and mastery are two different things. You can have mastery without perfection, and mastery doesn't equal perfection necessarily. Mastery according to its basic definition is a command or grasp of a subject. As we've discussed before, our process is always evolving and adapting. This is the craft aspect of writing. It's an dynamically awesome, ever-evolving skill. You hone it, sharpen it, and use it as it suits your story.
Art is its own beast. But I do think it can be shaped, molded, directed into something desirable for the reader. We all shape it in our own meticulous ways. Art needs an expression, medium, a kind of soil to be manifested properly. Just look at nature. The beauty of the flower, garden, diversity of the plant life. Soil is the medium. Craft needs the seeds of art and art needs the soil of craft. When you have both there is beauty. The seed is sown making its home in the earth. The intrinsic life within the seed is activated seeking roots and minerals for growth. Then it seems like the soil is used as a springboard upward for further growth and development. You really don't know what's in the seed until it reaches full blossom. Cool stuff. Trees might even be a better example. A significant portion of the tree are the roots under the soil. So does the tree bear the roots or does the roots bear the tree?
What's your response? Am I completely off my rocker!?!! What's your experience in learning? Can you train your inspiration or mold it through the hands of craft?