May 5, 2012

Framebuilding & Writing: A Sort of Manifesto

 This post is one for the writers out there.  Yeah, yeah- all due humility- I know none of us wants to call ourselves a writer.  But really, if you do much more than write out to-do lists, you are.  Once I made any money at all, I had to admit that yes, I write things and get paid (something) for them.  I guess I'm even a published, professional writer.  If you hyperlink and clearly define those words, I suppose.
Anyway, one of the things that I love about writing is the technical aspect of it, a fact that I alluded to in the 1984 post.  I truly enjoy the editing and interaction and "assembly" of sentences.

And it is in that way that I connect with the small business, the tiny artisan working away by himself/herself.  With that in mind, I offer you this video.

 Bike made by Ira Ryan.


Yes, it's about bicycles.  I know that turns some of you off.  But we all have things that speak to us.  Nabokov had butterflies, Hemingway had bullfights, and I have bikes.  If you're interested in how someone builds what I would consider a practical sculpture, give it a look.  Or skip it.

I don't want to belabor the point or the metaphor, but I feel like it helps explain what this blog, and these writings, are all about.  I want to do abstractly what this man (and these people) are doing physically.
  • Building with care and personality.
  • Keeping within certain rules, but within those, letting a certain kind of creative chaos reign.
  • "Building" something that even without a label will be clearly recognized as being made by me.
That's all fine and good.  So many of us consider ourselves "writers", correct?  At least it feels that way.  Everyone secretly believes that they have a great novel inside themselves.

But how does one make the transition to being professional?  What makes one writer rise above that crowd?  By getting paid?  But how much do you have to "get paid"?   By getting published?  But where do you need to be published, and in today's world, does it count to be "published" online?  Or does it need to be on paper?  And what if they give you merchandise instead of money?

You see, it's not as black and white as you might think.  From what I hear, it's the same way for those framebuilders.  How many frames do you have to make per year to be "real"?  One?  Fifty-two?  Three hundred and sixty-five?  And what if all of those don't sell?


Here's what I suspect:  that for both of us, writers and framebuilders, this is a never-ending path.  It's kind of a mind game.  I have a friend with a few books published.  But they don't make him much money.  From my perspective, of course he's a real, professional writer.  But from his, until the books support him, he's not running with the big dogs.

But we all know that artists, even great artists, have worked in obscurity for years.  Maybe even their whole lives.  And then something happens and every word they wrote, every stroke they painted, every tube they welded, gains both critical importance and monetary value.

But when did that art become "real"?  When the money came, or when it was created?



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