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Tag Archives: Craft

For this week’s Trifecta challenge, our word was “craft.” I present to you a brief pirate story, simply called “Craft.” Enjoy. (Note: I’d missed Trifecta’s notice about Daylight Savings Time affecting the deadline for entries, and so I was an hour too late to submit this for judging. You get to read it anyway, because I’m generous.)

“Craft”

“Very well, I admit that I was wrong. I didn’t think you had it in you, boy.”

I danced the coin across my fingers, watching the old woman’s eyes follow it back and forth. “Clearly, you were wrong. And I had to have done it the way you said, or else news of Raven’s death would’ve already made its way to your ears.”

“Kidd Raven. He’s insistent that his full name be used. And unless you’re far better than I’ve been lead to believe, Kidd Raven would’ve killed you where you stood, had you attempted to gain it by any means other than craft.”

“You fear him that much, then?”

“I’m his captain, at least as of the latest vote.” The woman straightened, and she snatched the coin from me. “And I don’t fear him. I use him. He does what I need him to do, and on an occasion such as this, it means that I needed him to test you.”

I suppose my irritation showed in my face, because the next thing I knew, I saw a knife in front of it.

“If you insult any member of my crew, you’ll not find yourself among the living. Is that clear?”

“Aye, ma’am.”

She pulled the knife away, sheathing it and sitting back down in one fluid motion. “Now then, boy. You want to be part of the crew, and you’ve proven your skill at craft. You showed courage by not flinching before my knife. I’m willing to take you on board, on one further condition.”

“What’s that, ma’am?”

“You stop calling me ma’am and start calling me Captain. You’re making me feel older than I already am.”

“Aye, Captain.”

She smiled again. “Very well, boy. Meet the ship at the dock. You obviously know where. Introduce yourself to the bosun and give him this.” I caught the coin she’d taken from me. “He’ll know what it means. Welcome aboard, Brynden. I think you’ll do well.”

I set off into the night.

This one’s kind of a complicated subject, and was inspired by the latest Penny Arcade comic. How many of you feel that what you do as a writer actually counts as art?

I say yes. I know that some people would disagree with me.  However, I feel that a well written story or poem, regardless of the formal training  behind it, can be just as beautiful as some works of art, and far more impressive than others. I’ve read some pieces that, while incredibly well-written, strongly structured, and clearly organized, did absolutely nothing for me in terms of evoking an emotional response, and I’d consider them almost trash. Are those stories art? Much like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder (along with antimagic, disintegrate, etc., but I digress).

I know that my feelings on certain pieces change based on my age, my own life experiences, and my state of mind when I am reading it. Therefore, there are some books that I pick up on a regular basis. My love for Tolkien remains undiminished throughout the years, no matter how many times I’ve read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Other authors, I attempted to read in junior high or high school, and were totally dismissed at the time. Later on, particularly thanks to my degree, I would read them again, and I found that my tastes had changed. For example, let’s take Willa Cather. When I was a junior in high school, my English teacher taught Cather as a standard in his curriculum because she was his favorite author, and had lived where he had lived. That year, I attempted to read Death Comes for the Archbishop. I found it painful and dull, and questioned the relevance of Cather’s work.

Four years later, now a third-year English major (in part thanks to the influence of said English teacher), I read Willa Cather again, this time tackling The Professor’s House. With far more reading experience under my belt, I dove headlong into the book, and I finally found myself enjoying Cather’s prose. This time, I was fascinated by her characters, and eventually took it upon myself to revisit Death Comes for the Archbishop. Now that I was more accustomed to her writing, I realized that I really liked Cather, and was happy to add her to my list of favorite authors. I went through a nearly identical process when I first encountered Stephen King. Granted, I started with Desperation. Also granted, I was in fifth grade. Still, King’s writing style didn’t appeal to me. A couple of years later, however, I picked up The Green Mile, having seen the film version. It was, I guess, a more mild story, but it allowed me to adapt my mind to King’s writing form and characterization. Now I find myself hard-pressed to find King books that I’ve not read.

Based on my first impressions of both of these authors, I wouldn’t have called either of them artists. Skilled at their craft, yes, but neither Cather nor King would have kept my attention long enough for me to care. For whatever reason, I decided to give them another look, and that’s when I found the art. Now I feel that I’m able to see it far more often. In my own work, I’m trying to find the balance between craft and art. There’s only so far that formal training and technical approaches can take you. If you’re not putting feeling into what you’re writing, then you might as well quit now.