Sunday, May 30, 2010

Art and Craft and Ass in Chair

Stephen King (or Oliver Stone, depending on your source) said writing equals ass-in-chair.

Its been months since my last post. Life has been working its insidious black magic, taking over with work and school and PTA, baseball and laundry and family crises, leaving little time or energy for writing. At long last, this morning, my hindquarters are planted firmly in a chair. And I'm learning, in a way I never have, that writing is not like riding. A bike, that is. Case in point: I just spent thirty minutes doing internet research for this post. Back in the heady days of weekly blog posts, Done Fell Out, and various short stories, I would grab a cup of tea, curl up on the couch, and wax at least somewhat poetic (humor me people) about some relatively engaging topic. And I did it with ease and in short order. I suppose, back then, I fancied myself a writer, an artist.

Laura is an artist. I've always known this. In the way she crafts story, thinks about characters, examines the novel from seventeen scenes ahead. And now she's embarked on a solo writing venture that is original and exciting and brilliant, not only sentence by sentence, but also for its creativity, on both a macro and micro level. Not only does it make me wonder if (a.k.a. feel terrified) she's been carrying the laboring oar on all of our collaborative projects, it has started me thinking about art versus craft. Folks much smarter than I have opined on this subject at length. I just read an essay by Susan Sontag, purportedly examining this topic, but it made my eyes cross and cramped my brain. Suffice to say, I don't expect to add much to the marketplace of ideas on art versus craft, but I do know this: I can craft a sentence with the best of them. I can both persuade a federal court judge and bring you to tears with words that, strung together, sound like song. Sure, I can do that. But that doesn't make me an artist; it makes me - to my mind - a craftsman, craftswoman. And there's pride in that, certainly. But it's not art.

Did I ever have art in me? I tend to think I did. The question is whether there's any left and, if so, where it went. Did it disappear into the seventeen loads of laundry I did last week, did I lose it on my fifth business trip in four weeks, is it caught in the family crises that takes up so much space in my house? I don't know. I guess I'll just have to start by looking for it.


Anonymous said...

IMHO, art is nothing without craft. I agree, Kris, you do indeed write gorgeous sentences. Best of luck to you both.

Eric Blank said...

That is hilarious. You are a fabulous writer. I cannot wait to read more from you.