An Original View

I write often in this space about the difference between craft and desire. You will do yourself a great favor if you accept that with enough time anyone can learn craft. As my wife told me during her art school days, “Any monkey can learn to draw.”

It’s so true. You have to be reasonably interested in drawing, or writing, or whatever, but with enough time and perhaps a little training anyone can get the craft. As a writer this means that eventually you will look up and realize you can say anything you want to say. This is when the real work begins.

In this same art school where monkeys could learn to draw, teachers would sometimes turn to the students, some of whom were technical wizards, and ask, “What do you want to draw?” And these young people would be stumped. They had never asked themselves this question, and they didn’t know where the answer lay.

The frontiers of your evolving work cannot be reached through craft. Once you have dispensed with the question of craft you can begin to direct all your attention toward the heart of your interest, knowing you can translate anything found there. Do not think, however, that this is any simple journey. You carry your tools of craft as a spelunker carries his light and pick, and what you are seeking has often hidden itself behind years of tradition, habit, family, prejudice, politics, jealousy, envy, ego, greed, and all the other false desires and false loyalties mere craft cannot undo.

You will never get where you want to go thinking and thinking and thinking about craft. Your tools are sharp, your provisions plentiful – no need to check them again. Now it is time to think only of the journey. For this you will need new skills, skills no book or teacher or writing magazine can provide. You must learn to focus your mind’s eye clearly upon what is visible only to you, drawing a map of a world only you can see, and that no one but you will know is accurate. The apparent loneliness of this task is a lie. When you reveal what you have found you will discover that others have known this place too, and that your original view, like the astronaut’s first images of earth, allows others to see anew what they have always loved.

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