What declares a person to be a master of their craft? Is it deemed by education, say a bachelor or master or doctorate degree? Are we a novice before graduating college, then a master when we receive a document as a reflection of our knowledge? Or is mastery of a craft self-proclaimed?
Merriam-Webster defines novice as:
- : a person who has just started learning or doing something
Experienced is defined as:
- :have skill or knowledge from doing something
- :having experience
- :made skillful or wise through experience
Expert is defined as:
- :having or showing a special skill or knowledge because of what you‘ve been taught or what you have experienced
- Having, involving or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience
Master (n) is defined as:
- Highly skilled
2 Master (adj) is defined as:
- Skilled, proficient
- Master carpenter
- Master storyteller
- Master chef
- To learn something completely
- To get the knowledge and skill that allow you to do, use, or understand something very well
I think about my writing skills and experience and I can claim to be a master of my craft. I am a master author because I’ve acquired writing skills and knowledge through education and experience. I know how to write well and produce writings in many forms in both the commercial and noncommercial fields. I have displayed my experience through my author’s platform and of course, by producing novels.
I am a master of my profession, by the skills I’ve acquired that make it so, in other words, I know exactly how to craft a story, a novel, a screenplay, an employee handbook or a blog. This is only a short list of my skills, but you get the picture.
To self-proclaim may seem presumptuous, but who else is to give me permission to call myself a master writer, if not me? There isn’t a written rule, a rite of passage or an official committee of writing intelligence that can declare me a master of writing. According to a well-respected dictionary, I possess training and knowledge, therefore, I am a master.
I wonder how often proficient artists, like myself, blocked their potential by classifying or declassifying their skill? Deep in the heart, only we know the full measurement of our potential. The key is to be aware of it. Who said writers must conform to a label to describe our skill? For example, because I finally decided to publish my first book, am I viewed as a novice? If I were a novice, I wouldn’t know how to write a book, but this would be the social outlook. I would be labeled a novice, though I spent the last seven years perfecting my craft. Not the book, just the craft. I’m speaking only of my craft and my continuous learning cycle. I stay current with the latest writing trends and outlets. Within the last seven years, I’ve seen the art change. Dare I bend and conform or do I hold on to my firm belief that true art and intelligence will always prevail?
Art is defined by the beholder. A master writer may not feel anything when he or she reads my work, but millions of non-writers welcome, love and appreciate what I have to offer. Dare I take the opinions of one professional over the millions of non professionals? Do I take his or her opinion and tear down my artistry because they don’t like it? Do I take the view of one professional editor or publisher and let it determine my self-worth, changing what I believe I know? Dare I second guess myself because the masters of the publishing industry dismissed my writing because it doesn’t fit their purpose?
Dismissed and rejected writers, who know their stuff, I encourage you to keep pushing and refuse to change your voice to fit another.
How is written art wholly judged? Who gives who the authority to determine what is good or terrible? I ask because I come across a lot of terrible novels and I’m wondering who’s not paying attention to the story structure.
Is a novel only good when it’s critically acclaimed or awarded, even if it has structure problems and holes in the plot? Is a novel great when it changes minds? Are modern master writers being penalized for creating art that make people think? Is great literature being passed over because it’s not a mindless read?
Am I wrong when I read a best-selling craze only to be astounded by the popularity, as if to say, “I don’t get it. Why are people in love with this?”
I’ve studied story origins, semantics, syntax and the evolution of the English language from Old to broken. I understand the changes of English and literature. It seems I’m often the black sheep when it comes to popular novels because I fail to praise the latest craze. I’ll give credit, where credit is due. Granted, I’m attracted to certain types of literature, but because I love writing in various genres, I read various genres. When I say literature, I mean fiction, the type of fiction is unimportant for this piece.
What strikes and fascinates me is the praise and declaration of outstanding writing, when I clearly detect problems with the semantics, syntax and transition of a story. I can’t help but to read critically, that’s what I learned to do in college. I spent three years critically analyzing other’s writing, while improving my own. The problems I mention, I encounter over and over and over.
My latest reading experiences include nearing the climax of a page-turning novel, only to be let down by the lack of the author’s insight in properly setting up the story. Or, I’ve tried to read other critically acclaimed novels that lose me within the first two chapters—not because the story is uninteresting, but because the story lacks structure, meaning and foresight and I don’t care about the characters. I feel and see the story idea is excellent, however, the development and execution of the idea faltered, yet critics are raving, commending, “This is a true work of art! Riveting! Outstanding writing!” Thus allowing mediocre work to be widely accepted as good work.
Has this repeated action created a streamline of not-so-good work? Does the not-so-good novel outshine excellent writing by default? Are editors and publishers exhausted and not finding the dependencies? Do they no longer look for perfect structure, semantics or witty syntax? Does this mean that deep, emotional, thought-provoking prose takes a back seat to rickety structure and faulty climaxes? Is this where our society is heading? Has great storytelling shifted to a realm where people find joy and escapism in not-so-good novels?
Great writing doesn’t only exist within The Classics. Great writers of today have studied Wollstonecraft-Shelley, Austen, Stoker, Keats, Wordsworth, and other artists who created powerful movements such as Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Victorian, Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, Bloomsbury and Existentialism. All of these eras and turning points in literary history is an invention of today’s styles of storytelling that our society has adopted, loved and cherished, but the readers who take deep pleasure in The Classics are fading.
I recognize this shift in consciousness. Not only within the acceptance of not-so-good literature, but in other fields where not-so-good work is acceptable.
Nearly everywhere I go, no one is concentrated on their task. Rarely, do I see people who are being or who are at their very best. It’s an attitude, a feeling you get when a bubbly barista hands you a frappe with a true smile and a genuine, “Have a nice day.” We know those little angels when we see them. They are dwindling, fading deep into the unhappy folds of our overworked, over-stressed society.
An overworked, over-stressed person produces not-so-good work in any profession. This work is becoming more and more acceptable because there’s no time for correction. If there’s a mistake, how often do supervisors take the time to correct the mistake, right then and right there? Think of how much time would saved by not remaking, or refunding or resending? But when it comes to writing, rewriting and polishing until it shines, is an important process to ensure our literature doesn’t fall below standard. Below standard writing, the not-so-good writing is what I see more and more. It’s frighting.
Our society is incredibly busy and our minds are overloaded and they possibly stay deep within thoughts of escape. Workers give out the wrong suit, the wrong change, the wrong order, the wrong sandwich and the list goes on. “That was no onions, not add onions.” –this is my personal favorite and it’s good thing I like onions.
Is our overworked society is easily stimulated by not-so-good literature? Where masters, like myself, make them feel too much or think too much about their lives, where they stand or where they’re going—or not going? I mean, who wants to think about that, right?
It seems natural to runaway from readings that reflect our society as it stands. As a master writer, I bear no fear, but only raise awareness to the unaware. If you choose not to feel more, or think more how will you ever change anything?
I implore readers, who value escapism, to learn how to escape your current life permanently, by supporting novels that stimulate societal change through excellent writing. The only true way to escape the world you’re living in, is to learn how to change it. Keep reading the not-so-good novels, but have the wisdom to know the difference between good story structure with moralistic value and spaghetti on a wall. Master writers not only entertain, we move. Learn to recognize a novice, an expert or a master writer, simply by comparison. Always question the integrity of what you are reading and ask, “What did I learn?”
As long as we keep asking ourselves, are we better now than before we read a novel, then we can keep the legacy of our previous master writers alive. Let’s keep changing the world. If you escape social hardships, by reading tons of not-so-good literature, that doesn’t inspire change, then, how are you helping yourself? How are we challenging ourselves by continuously accepting not-so-good work? What does it say about our society?
Novice. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/novice
Experienced. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/experienced