Dear Ones —

I was speaking to an artist friend the other day, who said she was having a crisis of creativity because she felt she was losing her edge. She feared that her work was not experimental, bold, and innovative enough. She quoted Ezra Pound ("Make it new") and said she had stopped working because, simply put, she could not figure out any ways to make it new anymore.

I tried to explain to her that the opposite of The Edge is a simpler and older idea of The Craft. While the motto of modernity might indeed be "Make it new" the motto of the traditional craftsman/woman is more like, "Make it again and again and again and again and again, until you get better and better and better and better at it." (A wordy motto, but you get the point.)

I gave up fighting for The Edge a long time ago, and that’s done me a world of good as an author. I don't care about The Edge. Standing on the edges of things just gives me vertigo, anyway, and also carries with it a serious risk of toppling over that cliff and dying.

These days, instead, I just work toward honing my craft. I want to be the best and most prolific writer I can possibly be. I want to work every day, the way craftspeople have always worked. I don't mind returning to the same themes and ideas, to try to craft them better next time. I don't mind if my writing reminds readers of other authors (that's called following in a tradition, or offering homage) and I don't even mind if my new work reminds people of my earlier work. I'm not trying to ignite a revolution every time I sit down at my desk; I just want to pursue excellence.

To do that, I must get out of my own way (including getting out of the way of my ego) and simply do the work. As many times as it takes to get it right.

Do it every day. Do it as well as you can. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That's craft.


ps — This is a photo of me working on "Committed". Those tiny little slips of paper are each a "beat" of the memoir, and I kept shuffling them around until I put the story into its proper order. Sort of like putting together a puzzle, but made out of narrative.

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall