Trollope: Writing Is a Craft

I find Trollope’s insistence that writing novels is a craft like making shoes, and his pride in the money he got by writing them, sympathetic. He was aware, of course, that craft and art are not the same: a craftsman knows in advance what the finished result will be, while the artist knows only what it will be when he has finished it. But it is unbecoming in an artist to talk about inspiration; that is the reader’s business. Again, Trollope would never have denied that his primary reason for writing was that he loved the activity. He once said that as soon as he could no longer write books he would wish to die. He believed that he wrote best when he wrote fastest, and in his case this may well have been true: a good idea for a novel stimulated his pen. Though large sales are not necessarily a proof of aesthetic value, they are evidence that a book has given pleasure to many readers, and every author, however difficult, would like to give pleasure.

— W.H. Auden

This quote was shamefully stolen twice from I deeply regret it.