So, awhile back I posted an IWSG posted entitled “Gotta Love It”, talking about how it’s in the best interest as authors, much like actors and stage performers, to learn to love the audition (or query process). If you’re interested, Part I can be found here.
I’d like to expound on that a bit today. Because, unlike stage performers, auditioning only forms one part of the entire process. Authors are responsible for the entire production, as it were.
It’s easy to love the art of writing (those some days may be easier than others!). I find it all too easy a lot of the time to get caught up in the flood tide of words, especially when they’re flowing like music and my pen moves so quickly along the paper I can hardly understand what I wrote afterwards. But it’s deep, it’s hot, it’s a flippin’ tattoo to the creative process. When the words sing, there’s nothing like it. I live for those fugue-like acid trips into my own creative hive mind. Sometimes I even surprise myself.
But that’s the art of writing. The art, with enough practice and discipline, and the right mindset, is easy. Easy and exhilarating as following an empty road in a convertible Mustang with ALL THE POWER. Whee! 😀
The craft is something different, though it can be just as exhilarating in its own way. The craft comes when you finish a draft, and you set it aside a spell to let the engines cool. Crafting requires fresh perspective, and objectivity. It’s a lot like sculpting in marble–you have to see the inner image and the story tells clearly in this big, heavy block of a draft. And then you have to chip away at it, until only that image and story remain. It won’t take a day. It probably won’t even take a week. It certainly won’t take only one pass of the chisel. No, you go over it again, and again. Chip, chip, chip…
Eventually you get a definite form. The image becomes more clear, more concise, with every pass. Eventually your chips become shavings, and you ask your fellow artists “What do you think?” Then come the polishing cloths, in different textures. One for content, another for scene work, yet another for sentence structure and word usage.
You have to love the craft as much as the art of it. Drafting is easy. Revisions, rewrites, testing it in critique circles and with beta testers, polishing until your marble image is smooth as glass and just as clear. It takes time and patience, and a clear vision. It takes walking around the thing, over and over, examining the piece from all angles and in different lights. That’s craftmanship. Craftmanship is what sets apart the professional from the merely aspiring. It’s what sets apart the truly great from the merely good.