Monday, June 25, 2007

Curious Cat Question

Coming off from reading bad boy writer/editor Nick Mamatas on craft=bad and art=good (or something like that, I probably got it wrong as I'm still trying to process it), was just wondering:

Is your writing craft or art?

Ironically, I've usually heard criticism stating that people tag their works as "art" to protect themselves from criticism and not the other way around (i.e. protecting oneself's from the "idea of art as a superlative").

Just wondering.


M.R.M. said...

I don't like to define it either way. I crap out and follow the, "let others decide what it is." But I clearly want my writing to affect others (and myself), and that sounds more like art than craft. Also, when writers blather on about "craft," I get annoyed too.

cat with the fiddle said...

there are merits (and otherwise) to being called either way; the perception of which should be dependent on the writer's objective/s for writing.

the way i see it, a craftsman relies on skill, artisanship, paying great premium on the quality of output, regardless of whether his executions are his original creation or not. they require numerous materials to produce their output. like a dressmaker producing an actual dress from a designer's sketch.

the artist on the other hand relies on creativity, paying greater premium on how his output should affect its viewers. they require smaller amounts of materials to produce their work, their creations being products of original ideas.

so there are times when i write as a craft (that is, i use lots of reference, read other written bodies to make my output) and times when i write as an art (i only count on my own ideas to create an output).

but i am also confused as to how they can say someone calls his writing a craft to protect it from etc., etc. hmmm....

banzai cat said...

hmmm... it took me a while to think about this question because for me, I've always been a crafts kind of writer. But then again, I've always operated on the principle that my stories entertain-- educate at the most-- but are never art objects. I joke about being a hack writer but in a way, there's a grain of truth there.

for sure, I know some of my favorite writers like Kelly Link and Lucius Shepard have prose that can be likened to art. But for me, it's the "right word at the right time". I consider good prose like a well-crafted wooden chair: sturdy, strong, with nary a grain out of synch.

do I think Mamatas is right, that I'm avoiding aiming for excellence? I'm not sure; he could be. I'm still working that one out-- and if it's true-- to determine why I'm avoiding going for the gold.

Sean said...

I just write, that's all.


At least, that's what I've always thought.

banzai cat said...

Hehe same here. Though one wonders semi-writer's existential questions every now and then. ;-)