Sunday, February 19, 2012

"It's a craft, not an art. And ... be yourself"

When I first conceived the notion of working in the news business, I was employed by a book publisher in New York. I really didn't know much about how the news business worked, so I called up a guy at the newspaper Newsday and asked him. He was generous enough to fill me in.

First of all, he told me, New York was the communications capital of the United States, but if I wanted to break in, I would first have to get three or four years of experience outside the city, then come back and apply with one of the big boys. He gave me a bunch of other pointers but concluded with words I have never forgotten. They related to the news business ... or any other walk of life:

"Just remember two things," he said. "It's a craft, not an art. And ... be yourself."

A craft is a function. It may have a goal, but it has no frills. Frills just get in the way of practicing an artful craft ... of which news-gathering is one ... just like carpentry or, come to that, playing piano or painting a picture. Whatever it is, let others call it art ... and practice your craft.

Be yourself is likewise imperative -- and initially daunting as hell. Who the hell am I? Am I my opinions or skin color or sex or passions or income or tastes or education or beliefs or agreement with others or ... who the hell am I? It's a daunting question which is so daunting that papering it over is easier than answering it ... or so it seems until papering it over just doesn't work any more. It's easy-peasy to say, "I know who I am" right up until the moment that anyone might admit with some sheepishness, "I really don't know."

And how can anyone know? How can anyone fulfill whatever imperative there is in "be yourself?" Well, my best guess is, practice your craft. Practice and pay attention. Set aside the trip wires of "art" and "beauty" and "virtue" ... and practice the craft that is your life. Practice and pay attention and one day you will get out of bed and know how to tie your shoes.


  1. I feel compelled to share this link with you It reminds me of myself going from one activity to the next avoiding practice , Anita

  2. The post b4 this one titled "Money" is perhaps talking about what I need (or what fits more snuggingly is "desire for") now however I will tentatively stop at this post ..

    Couple of hours back my mother who is a retiree on pension at 62 years of age shared with me about how she went through the 1950s and 1960s entering the labor force with only elementary education and there is not much love lost but more pride instead seeing her son doing well continuously for exams for the past 20 years of academic life inspite of his ability to earn big bucks in commercial world

    .. it reminds me of the prologue about Genkaku mentioning about his writer-mother whereas my mother is a seamstress and while she can bearly write a passage I believe in front of her old sewing machine all mothers are the same if not similar in their regard of sons

    For some reason peculiar to me ever since I began reading this blog, like I recall Genkaku serving in Germany in some telephone exchange unit, tonight I found myself doing night duty at a local Telco manning a call center desk alone monitoring servers and routers over Internet Explorer window tabs.

    Fathers are like the sun while Mothers are like the Moon sometimes you know they are there but you cannot bring to see them in the face directly without a proxy like staring at oneself in the mirror as one grow a moustache or like looking into the water and seeing the reflection of the moon above one's forehead

    It is alot easier telling a romantic lover I love her knowing full well it is a lie but when i roughly understand why the truth that dad and mom i love u can never be expressed face-to-face in person yeah baby talk about love being suffering