Monday, December 22, 2008

A Guild Art

It may sound strange to think of writing more as a craft than a fine art, but for me that's what writing is, the sense of continual apprenticeship. It runs in my family.

My mother is a seamstress, and her family were tailors and stone masons. My father was a tailor and his father a cobbler. These were creative men and women of bygone eras, and they learned their craft and trade from others. As the years passed, and materials and techniques changed and, generally, progressed, these artisans and craftspeople adapted; they continued to learn. It's the same for me with writing.

It's been said that writers are forever at someone's feet. It's a humbling concept, but accurate. There is always more to learn, always improvements to be made, and sometimes this is a source of frustration. There's a sense of never arriving, at least not in this life. But the sense of more to learn is a source of inspiration, too, a creative impetus to soldier on in this often difficult field.

What can be hardest in this constant apprenticeship is the continual opening of one's self to the prospect of learning, continual vulnerability. Being vulnerable is hard when so much that is personal is at stake. Despite what people say, those rejections are, in one sense, very personal. After all, it's one individual's work that's being rejected, not someone else's, and let's face it, part of every writer, to one degree or another, goes into the work. That's personal.

But the continual learning is a kind of continual renewal, a constant spring in the dead of winter, when on the shortest days of the year, there is the need for renewal. When something is learned, it's as if a light has gone on somewhere in the soul, a bit more knowledge has been gained, and, hopefully, a bit more wisdom.

It's also wonderful to feel a sense of connectedness to all those who have gone before in this craft, pioneers who forged ahead and continue to do so. I still have craftspeople in my family, an architect, seamstresses and tailors. Some are quite well-known; others aspire to be. Still others aspire to remain in the background but to have their work shine forth. There's a sense of family in a guild, a sharing of thoughts and ideas, new concepts. It brings a promise of spring, even if gestation is taking place under the deep snow.

1 comment:

Nike.Chillemi said...

I love this concept.

Although I'm a thoroughly modern Christian, I appreciate the medieval period where the guilds contributed so much to the beauty of the church. I see such reverence in much of their work in tapestries, paintings, sculpture, and altar utensils. It seems almost as if in that era these guild members prayed through the work of their hands.