I was only six years old when my parents moved to Frankfurt, Germany. We spent three wonderful years there and to this day I harbor memories of beautiful Germany and the friends we made. Frankfurt was a beautiful, scenic and most of all a kid friendly place.
There were government funded youth clubs for children that offered after school activities to children of all ages, called “Jungendhausen”. The aim of these youth clubs was to promote creativity, art and workmanship in children while keeping them engaged and out of trouble…I guess!
I and my sister would go there every day after school and spend hours building or “basteln”. I remember making lamps out of a ballon and paper, toys out of wood, stone and clay and much more. The hours spent in the Jungendhausen under the supervision of the teachers were the highlight of my day.
One such day I remember my teacher calling me and my sister out as “Schön macher und Schnell Macher”.
“Schön macher” in German stands for a person who does beautiful work. My sister being a perfectionist and a few years older to me had the art for chiselling wood or stone into the most artistic shapes, which is why my teacher called her “Schön macher”. I on the other hand was all about “quantity”. I did not care much for detail. The fish I carved out of limestone had a vague resemblance to a fish but could have been an eye, the dog looked more like a cat and the clay shoe house was almost falling over its side. Get the drift? The Jungendhaus had a display window to show case all the art work made by children. It is no surprise that my sister’s artwork made it into the window many a times and mine would never reach its epoch glory.
Decades later I am reminded of what my teacher said, “Schön macher und Schnell Macher”. And I wonder which is better? Is it better to be a Schön macher and spend hours laboring on a piece of writing to perfection? Or is it better to be “Schnell Macher” and churn out greater volume?
Ofcourse this brings us to the ever debated topic of Quantity versus Quality? I am a bit equivocal on the matter and believe they both have their pros and cons. For instance when it come to blessings, I would rather have more but when it comes to friends I would rather have quality.
But are the lines between the two always black and white when it comes to writing? The craft of Writing is all about writing more and writing often and more importantly: rewriting.
I guess good writing is almost like a marriage of quantity and quality. If we marry the two we would probably end up with a supermodel child called “Quan-lity”.
Quan-lity would be the art of producing high quality written material in great volume.
But that is easier said than done. How do you strike the perfect balance to achieve a piece of prose or poetry that offers unrivalled quan-lity? If you were training someone to be a better writer would you err on the side of quality or quantity? Or would you insist on finding the perfect balance. If so, how do you strike the perfect balance?
9 thoughts on “Schön macher, Schnell macher”
With an english mother tongue (am a Brit) and lilving in German speaking Switzerland for the past 46 years, I have never found an english word for “basteln”. sometimes the German language has convenient expressions. I even find myself looking into the online dictionary “LEO” when I am writing to translate the german word into correct english. 🙂
I had no idea you lived in Germany. No wonder you noticed! I guess the rough translation of basteln is to tinker or to craft? My German gets weaker with the years. Thanks for dropping me a line 🙂
Small correction, I live in the German speaking part of Switzerland – Ig rede Schwiizertütsch meischtens.
Sehr wohl. Ich danke ihnen for ihren besuch.
I’m like your sister in that I have fought, most of my life, with my perfectionism. I’m still trying to accept that “good” is sometimes “”good enough”. And I am like you — when it comes to friends, quality over quantity.
Hey Irene, thanks for stopping by and sharing. It is funny I have lived with so many perfectionist people including my sis, dad and husband. Having lived with them and I know that their perfectionism is almost like an obsession. It makes them so enviable but also stressed. I fully agree sometimes they should know that good is “good enough”. 🙂
Hi Neha, Thanks for liking my post and making me stumble upon this wonderful writing. Loved what I read here.
Aah you are welcome. Hopefully we shall continue visiting each others worlds 🙂