I’m in deep thought about Project Runway today. Thinking about one of the contestants, Anya, Miss Trinidad and Tobago, who turned to a career in fashion design. Who learned to sew something like three months before becoming a contestant on the show.
I used to work in reality television (Nanny 911, anyone?) I know that these shows tend to make up stories where there are no stories. I’ll likely never know the real story. But the other contestants complain about Anya’s poor construction skills. Whether it’s jealousy or not (it’s jealousy) they bring up valid points. ‘I’ve been sewing all of my life,’ they say. ‘I’ve worked my tail off and dedicated myself to this craft for years and years,’ they whine. And so, they are a little put off when Anya wins and her model allegedly had to be sewn into her garment because it wasn’t executed properly in the first place.
But, here I am, in awe of Anya’s impeccable taste, her sense of what is beautiful. She knows prints. She sees something in them no one else sees. And these models walk out in her clothes full of color and life and I drool and exclaim that I would buy every article of clothing she makes even if I would look like an absolute fool in anything high fashion.
And I wonder…
I read about these published writers, listen to them on panels, these writers, who, seemingly, wake up one day and decide ‘I will write a book.’ They say, ‘I came up with the idea in the shower, then I wrote it in a creative frenzy in just two weeks!’ Whether it’s true or not (it can’t be true, can it?) there is a question:
What is merely good? What is great? Does it matter if it takes a writer two weeks and a bottle of shampoo or forty years and a lot of tears over endless bottles of bourbon to write a book?
There are books that wow you with the jazz hands, that make you want to buy, buy, buy, even if they have awkward sentences and strange plot holes. And there are books that are written over time and with love, that prove the people who wrote them know their craft.
I’ve enjoyed both kinds of books (even if the former makes me angry). I’ve much more often celebrated the books that take care with language. But I do wonder about all this. Thoughts?