Tuesday, September 18, 2018

On Craft

OldNFO shares his travails doing the tedious research for an upcoming book project (and then, as is his wont, generously shares an excerpt).

In his missive, he shares that he's "not trying to be Louis L'Amour here".

Au contraire, mon ami.
That's exactly who you're trying to be.

The reason L'Amour was L'Amour was his auto-didact doctoral-level encyclopedic research, especially primary sources, and wide-ranging knowledge of his subject matter, and a not inconsiderable amount of life experience living it out beforehand.

{cf.: Thoreau, W.H. Dana, Melville, ad infinitum}

In the writing world, there are the L'Amours, in whatever genre, and there are the hacks.
Anyone can get rich being a hack if they compensate with other skills, mainly because the pool of dim lights buying their b.s. has grown by leaps and bounds.

But the 'net has cut pretty deeply into the ability of hacks to pretend expertise, leading to an epidemic of butthurt, and no shortage of hacks entering ancillary employment.
(Which explains Hollywood, for example, since pretty much forever.)

Research for a novel is like planning for an invasion.

No craftsman worthy of the title ever skips sharpening his tools or oiling the machinery because it's "tedious" or "annoying", any more than any pilot who wants to become an old pilot skips pre-flighting his aircraft.
That's why it's called craft.

Good on anyone for doing that work.


Sven said...

Amen Brother. I oil my 1917 production trip hammer every time I use it and I'll probably will it to my grandchildren.

Anonymous said...

Dull tools are dangerous, be OK if they were only dangerous to those wielding them.
Had a thought the other day " This country was built with hardware, it's being destroyed with software"
Boat Guy

Old NFO said...

Thanks for the link, but you and I both know my readers WILL NOT put up with sloppy work/wrong bits in a novel... And neither will I... Sigh...

Aesop said...

Nor would you yourself.
Best wishes on the project.

There are never enough good western stories.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aesop;

Part of Jim's appeal of his books are that they are "believable", he does his research and it shows. Jim has too much pride to churn out "Dime Store" novels.