“It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools.”
That proverb has always bothered me. It seems to imply that if someone was truly a good craftsperson he should be able to overcome, in the midst of a project, any impediment: a dull hatchet, a broken blade, a cracked handle. In my experience, good craftspeople are more concerned, not less, about their tools. They prefer to buy high-quality tools, care for the tools they already own, and fix or improve the ones that need it. Tools are an extension of the maker’s mind and hand — not to mention the instruments of her very livelihood — and she tends to them accordingly.
It’s also been my experience that using good tools can actually make projects turn out better because they are just so much more enjoyable to use. As a writer who writes nearly all his early drafts by hand, the tools of my trade include pencils, pens (to a lesser extent), and paper. Because I spend so much time writing by hand — between three to five hours a day — I’m unapologetic about wanting to use good tools. While I don’t believe I’m capable of writing the elusive “Great American Novel,” if I was, I’d like to think I could write it using even a package of badly made, foil-wrapped “Happy Halloween” pencils I got at the dollar store.… Read the rest