Honoring the Muse

One struggle that lies at the heart of art, especially when you are trying to do art for a living, is the battle between art and craft. How much of your work is following the feverish commands of inspiration and how much is buckling down and taking a workmanlike approach?

I announced at a very young age that I wanted to create art. My parents, having the noblest virtues of the Boomers, responded by exposing me to documentaries and biographies of artists and how they accomplished their goals. The upshot was I became very sold on the idea that art is first and foremost craft. That putting in the work is more important than inspiration. That it is persistence, rather than passion, that matters most.

It’s all bunk. You need both. Persistence, discipline, and craft is your strong, dexterous, right hand. Without it, good luck getting anything done. Inspiration, magic, and passion is your playful left hand. Without it, your work has no life.

Good art is hard work by a thoughtful craftsman using his tools judiciously. Good art is also a magical spark, catching lightning in a bottle. If you are a writer, and you believe firmly that art is all about the magic, I suggest you immediately buy and read any book with the word “formula” in the name by Debbie Chester, and write a formula book exactly to her prescription. If you are a writer, and you believe firmly that art is all about the craft, I suggest you immediately buy and read The War of Art, and pray and meditate over it. You will not create your best work unless both hands are present and strong.

My favorite expression of this is the formulation of John C. Wright. “Like any pagan deity, the Muse requires a sacrifice. The offering you give her is words on a page, typed out daily.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s