Craft enables art.
—Ursula K. Le Guin
Skilled professionals make what they do look easy: Think of a major-league hitter driving a ninety-six-mile-per-hour fastball over the outfield wall, or a soprano singing a high C. Think of your favorite author composing one eloquent, magical sentence after another. It can be hard to see through the apparently effortless art to the skills underneath. This is especially so with writing, where we can’t get inside a writer’s mind to see the choices being made as he works.
Writing instruction these days tends to focus on the finished product: In thousands of workshops and classes, drafts are “workshopped,” critiqued, discussed, revised. What interests me, though, is not what we write, ...