Thursday, January 10, 2013
Still circling around that last post, which I now think of as the "writerly-crafty" post.
Writing as craft. The Craft. I hear that a lot. I just used it in an interview I'm doing with somebody right now. This is a normal thing to say, but it also makes me nervous. Partly this is anxiety because I have never done a writing workshop,* which is where they teach you the Craft, and so I feel that I really don't know much about Craft, not Craft as Craft the way it's taught in writing classes. Partly it's because something in me resists the idea of writing as craft. Why is writing like a craft? Why is a raven like a writing-desk? And partly it's because I am anxious about my knee-jerk dismissal of the idea of writing as craft, because what am I proposing in its place, other than the idea that writers are artists in the romantic sense of the untaught, natural genius? And this idea makes me just as uncomfortable, because it suggests that writers are merrily piping away like larks in the spring rather than working.
To say "writerly-crafty": this could be to diminish what you do, as I said last time. It could also be to defend your work from the charge of uselessness. Or it could be an attempt to get chummy with people, to demystify writing and make it seem normal and doable and teachable and for everyone rather than a few. If you believe this, great. If you don't quite--and I don't, quite--then you are being crafty in a different way.
To say "writerly-crafty" could also be a way of talking about what you cannot really talk about, a process too intimate and personal for frank discussion. Using "craft" as an approximation or metaphor, or using it as a disguise. Maybe you don't want to talk about what it really is. Maybe you're too superstitious (writers, like athletes, are horribly superstitious). Maybe you say it's a craft to keep from pronouncing its actual name. In which case you are also being crafty.
*I took two one-week poetry workshops with Nick Lindsay when I was in college. They were wonderful. He used to take out this recorder and make the most anguished sounds on it. I also did a one-day workshop with Catherynne M. Valente at WisCon. She was wonderful; I was thoughtless in choosing work to submit, and showered everyone with nervous praise.
Posted by Sofia at 9:31 PM