Monday, March 2, 2009

THE CRAFT

No, I’m not referring to an angsty, teen witch morality tale. (It wasn’t too bad, even though Hollywood got the magic all wrong) My schedule for the next few months has miraculously filled with writer’s conferences, workshops and feedback sections. As such, my mind is very much occupied by the idea of craft, as it pertains to writing.
If, as the saying goes, you’re never too old to learn, then I’m in great shape. Nothing is more glaringly obvious at the moment than the fact that I’ve got a lot to learn. A lot. As for the old part, well I’m not fessing up to anything here.
I spent yesterday in the company of brilliance—an awesome and inevitably humbling experience. It wasn’t just the New York Times bestselling author hosting the workshop that oozed genius. The attendees crowding the long tables, crammed together in eager anticipation and fellowship, all had it. I hope it’s contagious.
I can’t imagine anything better than learning your craft in that sort of company. I can’t imagine anything better than learning your craft, for that matter. Continuing education is a part of nearly all professions. Doctors, teachers, lawyers and even (sigh) retail managers are expected to attend certain amounts of ongoing training. It keeps them up to speed, current, sharp, and more to the point, it keeps them learning and improving—just don’t ask your Doctor to admit that.
Unfortunately, those in fields loosely termed, the Arts, have been known to be a touch resistant to craft. In art school, “Craft” itself is a dirty, dirty word usually eclipsed by such terms as “Talent” and “Instinct.” Horse-pucky.
I hate finding this attitude amongst writers, but I have. Usually, it crops up in young, new and extremely eager authors who believe they have a rare talent. The world simply doesn’t understand this, or isn’t ready to accept it yet, and why oh WHY should they lower themselves to study, change, or learn more about how to write? They have Talent.
I hope that much attitude can pay their bills for them, because it most certainly won’t get them published. That goal aside, I hate to think of all the experiences this budding talent is missing out on. Suppose we agree for a moment that the youngster does, in fact, know everything, (not) there are still a slew of benefits to be had from socializing, kibitzing, and networking with their peers. I’m guessing, should we lure them into a workshop or conference under these pretenses, the odds are they’ll leave a better writer, having inadvertently learned something they miraculously didn’t already know.
Evolve or Perish! I always say.
Cheers,
~Frances

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