It Takes Two: Gift and Craft

July 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

It Takes Two: Gift and Craft

As a writer, one of the most difficult situations to witness is another young writer who deliberately murders his talent by refusing to do what is necessary to develop craft. It is a form of suicide, for no matter how beautiful the words, the turn of expression, no matter how gut-wrenching the emotion of the work, without craft, the message weakens and dies before it becomes what it is meant to be.

I have a young writer friend like that. He is very talented, one of the more gifted I have had the pleasure of reading. He loves to read. He loves to write. But he does not like the discipline of craft. He and I have circled this particular issue for years now.

Tonight, he demands to know how I can declare his writing beautiful, how I can say I am moved by it if he does not indeed know craft. In my mind, it is simple. I used this analogy: The first few times you had sex with someone was filled with fire and passion, with freedom and newness, and probably satisfying for you, but I wonder about the partner. As you grew older and learned the pleasure in delay, in focused touch, learned about your lover’s body, developed the knowledge to satisfy both yourself and your lover, the sex grew better, right????

We may have beautiful, sexy bodies, pretty words, a great kiss, an available bed, but we only become true lovers when we learn how to use the beauty, the enticement, the fire, the passion to achieve satisfaction for both people. And I believe that is true of loving and of writing.

I may have powerful, emotional subjects to write about. I may have breathtaking words, phrases, images to use. But, just as with sex, when in the middle of foreplay or the act itself, if I linger too long on one part of the body, or if I don’t vary the tension and intensity of my touch, or the rhythm gets skewed too slow or too fast or just plain monotonous….or perhaps I even stop to answer the phone or go to the bathroom, well, then, I can pretty much forget getting my partner to a satisfying ending. He/She will be back at start and most likely at stall. “We have to start all over again.” His/Her attention will not be so easy to regain. He/She will be waiting for me to get lazy or self-focused and disappoint–AGAIN. My lover will not be satisfied.

If the writer weaves and wroughts a wondrous world and the reader is lost in the sensation and feel of that world and then BAM! the writer interrupts to tell the reader what to think, or feel, or the lover says to his love, “Hold everything, I have to go to the bathroom!” well, damn. The moment is lost. So is the lover. And so is the reader.

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