Aaaaand I’m over 230,000 words at the moment, forget the actual total, and I took a few days for some editing. There will obviously be more of that— I believe firmly in writing until I feel done, and then going back and taking stuff out and fixing things, and THEN doing the very serious editing, ie stuff other people find boring, but I don’t, because the craft of writing appeals to me almost as much as the art of writing.
There’s been a tendency among people who make things to diss “crafts” as in “oh, you aren’t really an artist, it’s just a craft”, or “I’m not really an artist, I’m just a crafter.” (It works both ways— the self deprecation thing is really fucking old, ladies. And it’s almost invariably Ladies, not Gents, who say this kind of crap. Men, for some reason, have no problem being, I don’t know, Craftsmen. Why is that? Hmm.)
But Craft is a wonderful word and an important one, and crafting or being crafty (in all senses of the term) is a great thing to do and to be. You can extrapolate this idea outwards into the spiritual realm: Witchcraft, for example, differs wildly from the currently popular pop-culture view that you are “born” a witch, or that a witch is some magical creature, spontaneously formed. Actually, no. You have to work at it. If I have a beef with the movie, erroneously perhaps titled “The Craft”, it’s the fact that the malevolent Bad Witch is shown working very hard at her craft and becoming good at it, whereas the “natural, born, didn’t have to work at it because she’s somehow more authentic” Good Witch is shown, you know, not having to do shit. (For the record, I have a lot of beefs with that movie, but that was a major one for me, and I had to discuss it with a lot of young teenage girls who came into the bookstore I was working in right around the time the movie came out. But that’s not the point of this particular blog post.)
Writing, without a doubt, requires the art. But the craft is where all the good stuff comes from, all the power, all the skill, and it is the thing that separates the good writer from the bad writer. Technical skill, which is learned and practiced. You may be gifted, and you may be a natural, but technique is learned and honed. And no one else can do it for you.
I reject outright the notion that to be a good writer you have to be humble and listen to what others say about you. I think to be good you have to be stubborn and work hard. You have to be willing to sit there all by yourself and put in the time and energy, and then you have to have enough self respect and perhaps ego to defend your work against all of those who will want to change it and change you. In the end, if you’re good, YOU do all the work. No one else does. They just want to profit off of your labor. But that’s also a digression, one for another time. NPR has been trying to drive me to suicide with their stories about the modern “publishing” industry, and I might get back to that here at some point. But not now.
Now I’m just advocating for an embracing of the word and the ideology of Craft.