Greg Wolfe on The MA

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    GREGORY WOLFE in Christianity Today, March 2008


  • The Master's Artist is a group blog for writers united by the blood of Christ and a love for language. We come from different backgrounds, have different theological outlooks, and are interested in a wide variety of genres and artforms. The opinions expressed belong to their authors alone -- and you're welcome to share yours.

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April 10, 2008


Jeanne Damoff

50 points for that first sentence. I always wanted a whack-a-simile-with-a-sledgehammer game.

Very entertaining, Mike. I'm not even slightly tempted to pretend I don't know you.

I hope your birthday yesterday was way fun and the inner editor let you have cake instead of carrot on a stick.


Nathan Knapp

Mike, the world would be a much less entertaining place without your writing. It might be less loopy, sure, but the hilarity would be sorely missed, my friend. ;)

Dee Stewart

Ooh, Mike. Why did you have to throw Memphis in this? :) That game was bananas! Happy Birthday again.


Yes, Mike, no one can say that you don't have a unique voice, so quit trying to change it. You are who you are to sound a little Yogi Barra-ish. That voice got you into this predicament so if you want to stay there or here or wherever it is you are :), write on in your own voice--like who you are. Get me? :)


Sorry: Yogi Berra. It always looks right when it's spelled right. Right?

Madison Richards

Ha ha ha ha! I guess I should have read your post before answering my email this morning! That is just hilarious...

Anyway, if I may be so bold as to quote Robert Olen Butler's "From Where You Dream" I think there's some good stuff in there about voice and trying too hard...

"This is another important difference between the creation of a fictional work of art and a work of entertainment. The evidence is in the text...But the artist does not know. She doesn't know about the world until she creates the object. For the artist, the writing of a work of art is as much an act of exploration as it is expression, an exploration of images, of moment-to-moment sensual experience. And this exploration comes from the nature of art and the nature of the artistic process as I've been trying to describe it to you..."

I guess my point is that the fine line between creating from our "unconscious", as it were, and editing that creation is, well, a fine one. Sometimes trying too hard really does mess up the voices of our characters. I think that is the crux of the learning of craft - it isn't the nuts and bolts of grammar, simile and metaphor, it's a knowledge of timing - when to leave it as is and when to adjust, as you've said. Learning "how" to reach that place where the writing flows naturally is also about timing. It's like waiting next to a dry creek bed for a stream that is fed by the mountain snows in the spring. You can draw from the stream only when it's flowing.

This 'business' of 'art' is the ultimate challenge for a writer, I think. Because in a business we must force certain aspects of life that are better left to natural flow. But time and men and circumstances require a different set of laws for nature to obey. It is a pickle, for sure.

I don't know much, but this I know: Mike, you're a fantastic writer. You can do this. Don't give up. Lucky for you, it's springtime, and I can hear the water tumbling over the rocks as I type. Drink deep, then edit away!

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