Artists and Artisans by Catherine Carberry

In her lecture “Why Write?” Zadie Smith emphasizes the honor—and the drudgery—of the craft of writing by comparing it to the work of an artisan. My undergraduate students, many of who major in things like Business or Supply Chain Management, argue that creative writing is worthless in today’s economy. In an atmosphere where writing is considered indulgent, many writers are quick to clarify that they have ambitions beyond what others label as a hobby. Conversely, as Smith mentions, some writers identify as such out of an inflated sense of ego, latching onto the romantic allure of the word and the implication that they, more so than others, have stories worth being told. We can call ourselves writers and expound on the challenges of our craft, but only if we acknowledge that thousands of other people are claiming the same level of creativity and unique perspective. Instead, the honest call of a writer is akin to that of a craftsman. In her lecture, Smith compares the work of a writer to that of a builder of chairs. The public may buy mass-marketed chairs, identical and flimsy plastic models, but still we labor to create works that are sturdy, relevant, and beautiful. Why?

The Gallery at Artisans Square, Snug Cove, Bowen Island, BC. Continue reading