Last Saturday at our RWI meeting, one of guest speakers, Chuck Sasser, talked about the importance of learning your craft. As a writer talent and drive will take you so far. But we have to constantly challenge ourselves…no not challenge, demand, that we strive for excellence every day.  The task of polishing our work is one that we can never cross off our To Do List. Our labor is often done late at night when the kids are finally in bed or when the laundry is put away. Life sometimes gets in the way of writing and it becomes easy to re-prioritize our tasks so that writing and polishing our craft moves to the bottom of the list. Chuck said as writers we have to discipline ourselves to keep writing at the top of the list.

 I ran across a poem this week by Dylan Thomas. It says it all.


 In my craft or sullen art

Exercised in the still night

When only the moon rages

And the lovers lie abed

With all their griefs in their arms,

I labor by singing light.

Not for ambition or bread

Or the strut and trade of charms

On the ivory stages

But for the common wages

Of their most secret heart.


Not for the proud man apart

From the raging moon I write

On these spindrift pages

Nor for the nightingales and psalms

But for the lovers, their arms

Round the griefs of the ages,

Who pay no praise or wages

Nor heed my craft or art.

9 thoughts on “CRAFT OR SULLEN ART?

  1. Beautiful, Lynn! What a great find. I’d never read the poem before today.

    What Dylan didn’t know all those years ago was that the words burned into his heart-the words he had to write or suffer madness-would live forever in the hearts of many. The words were given to him for a purpose, even if that purpose was only to inspire a group of romance writers to continue pounding away at their craft, because they MUST.

    Writers write. Not for compensation but because it releases the voices in their heads and makes their hearts sing.

  2. Lynn,

    I love Dylan Thomas’ poetry. This is a great reminder to all of us. I often forget that ALL writers share some of the same struggles and challenges. Song writers, poets, newspaper columnists and speech writers all have similar problems. We have to make time, we have to set priorities and we have to just Do It. spw

  3. Pingback: Anberlin’s New Single ‘We Owe This to Ourselves’ with Lyrics

  4. Lynn,
    Great reminder that we have to learn and practice the craft regardless of what else is going on in our worlds. And there’s always a ton of ‘other’ stuff to get in the way. To create the best, we have to keep pushing.

  5. To paraphrase someone else, I don’t want to be on my death bed thinking, “Gee, I wish I’d kept a cleaner house and done more laundry.” 😉

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