Rendered Fat Content


Massimiliano Soldani: The Knife Grinder (c.1700), Albertinum, Dresden
" … sharpening a skill."

Many mysteries have been resolving themselves as I continue my Authoring efforts. I've gotten to the point where I feel as though I can almost make my compiling software do my bidding, though I declare this while keeping the fingers of my right hand crossed and secreted behind my back. No use tempting fate. I feel about as proficient as a novice driver who only drops one in three of his shifts, more skilled but hardly a master yet. Let's say I'm getting by, and as I begin to get by, my collating effort seems less insurmountable; still at root insurmountable, but now, surprisingly, less so; a smaller infinity. And with this improvement, the grey cloud which had taken up residence just over my head has begun dispersing, like the fog bank which had been hiding horizons here since Christmas. It's not Spring yet, but the brutal part of the Winter's finished. I sense that the brutal part of my Authoring's behind me, too, but behind me like my right hand's behind me, with crossed fingers. Let's say that I've been Honing my craft.

Honing seems an interesting activity because it seems to sit in the often neglected middle ground beyond beginning but before ending.
Honing seems where judgement starts forming, where doneness is found wanting. To master Honing suggests mastering becoming without actually achieving anything yet. Honing takes one up to but not including ever completing. Honing seems to get set aside rather than concluded. The whetstone remains at hand because it's certain that its contribution will be needed again. It goes on furlough for periods but never fully retires. The Honer (if there is such a word) might master a verb, which produces no trophy or artifact suitable for public display. He's scraping, sharpening, whetting. He's neither the tool nor the swordsman, not the chef nor even the executioner. He's a background actor. Much of what Authoring entails involves this sort of effort, not the publicly recognized works, but the background backstage ones.

Honing seems terribly personal. Not even the barber really cares how his scissors came to be sharp, just that they prove to be sharp when put to use. No excuses for any job done less than competently. A Honed blade should perform flawlessly as well as invisibly. I managed, yesterday, to complete compiling an entire manuscript in just one day, a formerly unthinkable accomplishment back when I was still dropping three shifts out of four when attempting to compile. I even managed to tune into some background music while compiling, a formerly pat-my-head-while-rubbing-my-tummy complication I wouldn't even attempt. Time consequently flew, or certainly seemed to. My isolating effort thereby became a touch more social yet still decidedly private. No one reviewing the compiled manuscript should ever see the fine tool marks my Honing produced. Nobody, that is, other than your's truly. I notice the difference.

Earlier compilations were carved in recalcitrant stone. Later ones, cast in bronze. Certain techniques, not initially obvious, have become standard practice now, their sequence, second nature and perhaps soon headed toward first nature status. I sense a deepening and broadening of my talents to where I might acknowledge an ability to hone my own rough work into a more finished product. Should the sculptor wax and polish his own statue? Master painters used to convene ceremonies so people could witness them varnishing their finished canvases, a rare example of a Honing activity garnering public notice. Honing's not done, but propelling toward. It seems from here, a vast improvement over feeling baffled about how to produce a desired smooth, sharp edge. Once produced, that edge serves as mere medium in producing any final effect. A sharp knife is not yet or ever supper, but just a factor involved in producing some. Likewise, my flawless appearing compiled manuscript might well look finished, but more Proofing's next, then broader reading and confirmation. I'm better understanding a significant piece of the Authoring puzzle, sharpening a skill, Honing.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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