Writing and Woodcarving

blogger: Cynthia Ruchti

writing and woodcarving headshotSo many similarities–writing and woodcarving.

As I was preparing this blog post, a writing friend with so much good going on in her career was gouged by news of a family medical crisis. A well-known author is battling a chronic disease that makes a daily word seem an impossible Everest. Another bears the scars of a relationship rift. One author is saying goodbye to a dream house and moving across the country to downsize and regroup after her husband’s job loss. Still another lost a beloved family member and needs to stand-down from her aggressive speaking schedule.

Maybe no one believes the myth anymore that the writing life–and being published–is like sliding on polished marble.

Accolades, applause, admiration, advances, adoring fans, and a rustic cottage on the edge of a glassy lake with a charming antique desk near the window to catch the morning light while the words pour out like warm honey… Writing and woodcarving art

But in case anyone does still hold to that myth, this is our reminder that writing shares more in common with woodcarving than with polished marble.

We don’t write because life is slick and easy.

It isn’t.

And writing won’t make it slicker or easier.

Ask any author. It won’t.


writing and woodcarving

We write because life gouges us, reader and writer alike.

It reshapes us, carves its truths deep into the core of who we are.

The art emerges from the way light reflects along the ridges and creates contrast against the shadowy ditches. The stories are etched with sharp tools that remove the parts of us that hid what was possible.

When we write, we run our fingers over a smooth piece of wood–a blank page–sketch a design in our minds or on its surface, then pick up the tools and begin to dig away at what was flat but meaningless without the scars that create the art.

We create knowing that nothing of quality comes without cost.

But we’ve counted that cost and the pile of wood shavings that will be left behind when we’re done. We’re in search of what is within the piece of wood, begging to be revealed.

writing and woodcarving picture

We edit, and allow our work to be edited by others, with tools as sharp as a woodcarver’s blades.

Why? Because we know that unless we remove excess, the words can’t sing. Unless we submit to the editing process, we’ll only manage to produce a rough, silk-snagging, choppy image that causes readers to squint to figure out what that thing is supposed to be.

We persist in writing, embracing–even leaning into–the pain.

The pain of waiting. Of rejection. Of a slip of the blade that defaces our intention and sends us back to the woodpile to choose another piece to work with. The pain of life’s weathering that both informs and enriches what we write.

We write anyway.


Who do you know who is experiencing a measure of success in his or her writing and publishing career? Don’t envy that person. Pray for and encourage him or her. Behind the scenes, a whole lot of gouging is no doubt shaping that life and those words. The result may be a thing of beauty. But it came at a price. If you look closely, you can see where the woodcarver’s chisel and sander have been.

Writing and woodcarving. So much in common. Click to Tweet.