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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