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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: The Professor's Analogy
By dub W


The professor droned on, “and so the act of creating the written word, is really a craft, each letter carefully placed, every combination of letters equally carefully arranged, and those combination joined together keeping in mind the balance between all the elements.” He paused and took a breath. “You see, the syntax, the grouping of words, is a skill like no other, much of it a learned skill, much of it simple innate ability; perhaps the given heritage of learned parents, or perhaps, a natural cue in the brain given by God.

Marie tried to keep her eyes open. Eight a.m. classes were not her forte. She yawned and raised her hand. “Professor Cox, is that not the same description one might attribute to a painter?” She thought for a second. “And, they are called artists.”

The professor smiled. “An intelligent question. A painter learns a skill, but is not he or she born with the ability? I have taken art classes, as many of you have. Who in here can successfully match a Van Gogh?” He surveyed the class. “One if you may, but I don’t buy lottery tickets either.”

Marie extended her hand. “Can writers be considered artists?”

“What does the class think?” The professor raised his own hand. “Show of hands, how many believe that a writer is an artist rather than a craftsman?”

About half of the class including Marie raised their hands.

“Interesting,” he said. “You are all writers to some degree. Do you consider yourselves artists.”

“No, just students.” A football player, seated in the back of the room, spoke up.

The professor clapped his hands, excited at the spirited conversation. “Ah yes; but, are you studying the art of writing or the craft of writing?”

A young woman on the front row meekly raised her hand. “In art class we work on the craft of art, you know, how it is done, evaluation of color and design.”

“And, in writing class we build outlines and study word usage before writing anything – that’s the craft.”

“So when?” The professor made a sweeping gesture at the window. “Does the art student studying the craft become an artist? When do they break out of their cocoon? “

“When they sell something.” The football player leaned back in his desk chair .

“Aw, yes indeed.” The professor pointed at the player. “But, why would anyone buy that given art?”

Marie tried to get the professor’s attention. “Cause they liked it, it was good?”

“The art students down the hall produce, good, as you say, work. “ The professor pointed out the door. “What ‘s the difference?”

The meek young woman on the first row raised her hand. “God?”

“God?” Questioned the professor. “Is that a question or a decision?”

The room got quiet.

“The special touch of God, changes a craft into an art. Whether it is laying brick, painting a picture, or writing an essay in my class.”

The football player broke the stillness of the room. “So, since I get C’s on my written work means that God doesn’t like me, right?”

The professor laughed. “No, not at all, it means that you are learning the craft of writing.” He paused. “Tim Tebow, didn’t just one day pick up a football and throw it 60 yards.”

The football player leaned up on his desk. “Okay, I see. I think.”

“No, he honed is craft. He works daily on perfecting aspects of his game. Many call him an artist on the football field, a master of the game.”

Marie tried to shift from the football analogy. “So, if I keep writing, and build my skills, and really work hard, I might be called an artist rather than a craftsperson?”

“With the touch of God.” The meek woman raised a finger.

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This article has been read 528 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Benjamin Graber04/29/10
I like the analogy. The discussion made me think as well...
AnneRene' Capp04/29/10
Creatively, thought out and thought provoking. Your dialogue is well done and your message...bullseye! Anything and everything without God, lacks.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
What an interesting debate. I liked how you managed many POVs
Marilyn Schnepp 05/01/10
Like Marie, I too almost fell asleep in that first paragraph; but then it got interesting. Many good thoughts, comparisons and musings about other types of arts and crafts...but that last line by the quiet one was what U>made this entry memorable. Nice job.
Ruth Stromquist05/03/10
I enjoyed this debate also, and your point that something becomes art when it's touched by God. Very thought provoking, and an excellent portrayal of a classroom debate. I too had some trouble getting through the first paragraph, although I know you likely intentionally made that part monotonous -- you may have accomplished that just a bit TOO well. But other than that, a smooth and fun read, with a great message.
Mona Purvis05/05/10
Interesting debate, good take on topic, well-written, meaty. Crafty...no, maybe a little more... artistic.

Beth LaBuff 05/05/10
Your (and the Professor's) analogies are most thought-provoking. Creative work with this!
Rachel Phelps05/05/10
This was a really great discussion of the art/craft of writing. Nice creative format rather than strictly essay. Great work!
Catrina Bradley 05/05/10
You nailed the topic - in the box, while still being very creative. Loved the give and take of students and professor, and I'll take away some food for thought from this piece. (Are you missing some words from the last sentence in the 3rd paragraph, or am I not reading it right?)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 05/06/10
Congratulations in placing in the top 15 in your level.