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About Writing

Writing is craftsmanship
Three words can mean a lot – or just add to the confusion. “I love you” may make you happy for days (or a lifetime), “you do that” demonstrates power (in the marriage after the happy lifetime) or just confirms someone’s trust in you.
Writing, to me, is craftsmanship, not “art”. I do not subscribe to claims like “Everybody can write” or “Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% transpiration”. Gags like those do well in (paid) workshops, but they don’t tell you anything. Yet, I do believe that anyone, who is capable of using his own tongue (in the meaning of language, not just the body part), Is able to write in a way that people want to read the text, want to follow the idea and like what they get not just for pure information.

Isn’t that art, already?
You may call it art, if it is more than information (touching emotions or making you WANT to act), sure. My problem lies with the (German) understanding of “art” as being a label for, often, meaningless, emotionless, overall “useless” stuff that, nevertheless, gets sponsored, even by the government, just because someone called it “art”. I do know “artists” that refuse to learn new things, educate themselves or even produce anything that makes life better for a single person, because they are … artists.
Note that I am not saying that any art is bullshit or any artist is a con. More about art elsewhere (link to come).
Language, written language in particular, is a medium to transport information. Pictures can inform you, but it needs language to explain what you see. Well used, language will help avoiding misunderstanding, will inform and entertain at the same time (or at least keep you awake enough to get the important bits). Written language is, or should be, dense, concise, simply “the best you can get”. It does need perfection, but at least aiming for the perfect wording should always be in your scope. While you may not need to weight every word you are saying to your beloved ones, your customer or your boss (wife), written texts that you expect to work, even if you are not there to explain “what the artist wanted to say”, should do exactly this: Work.
That is what I call craftsmanship. You can learn it, you can train it. It may need some workout, but so does impressing girls with your body. Loving your language helps a lot, go and ask yourself if those writers whose texts you find “boring, irritating or just … bah!” actually love their tools (language). It’s not enough to quickly write a book. If you need a book written under your name, I can do that for a fee. “Work” is not defined as something taking longer than a beer.

Words are more
I said it before and I love to repeat myself: Words are not just about information, language can and should touch emotions. Reading (and, hopefully, listening to) texts should be entertaining (not necessarily making you roll over, though). Communication scientists say that “some redundancy is needed in order to protect the information transported”. I like that idea. I tend to learn better if that learning is accompanied by some fun. May be this is what I could call „art of writing“: Finding a balance between what you want to tell and doing it in a way that makes reading/listening to it fun, even if the audience doesn’t want to know what you want them to know.
To me this is part of the fun in writing: Working on a text, even a short passage, for hours, even iterating over it after days or weeks, often makes me feel satisfied (even “happy”), once I release it. Re-doing a text over and over again feels like a waste of time the first hundred times, but you get used to it. And quite often, it may even feel like “always”, you get a better result with every new version.
Yes, that is valid for this text as well. I promise to revisit it …

Writing IS craftsmanship
There is no „certification” for authors (in Germany), there is no guarantee that even years of labour with some text will get you a “perfect” piece of literature. Or just something worth reading. There are professions that claim to having “mastered writing” or certificates of “professional authorship” or whatsnot. But, at the end of the day, that’s rubbish.
Languages change. They change over generations, decades, even years or months. I do not think that any master of any art or profession would, seriously, be able to cope with all the changes that languages undergo. Attaching a label “art” to language or writing just ignores that art too often is “just there for its own sake”. Language isn’t.
Selling a char or a table that doesn’t stand on its own won’t generate a reliable income to the carpenter. So why should writing “stuff” (that’s hard to read, not understandable) be any better, just because it’s called “art”? In Germany everyone can call himself “author”. Many do. There seem to be even more „journalists“ than „artists“. But try to find a newspaper text that you cannot make a big fun of, because of its flaws, its broken metaphors or worn out phrases. The Internet has done a lot of harm to the “art of writing”, which simply is “know your tools, work on and with them, learn, redo, struggle for the best you can do”.
I try to get my textings there. To the point where they are worth reading, even if you don’t agree with the content.