Friday, November 12, 2010

Earning Talent

Talent is an interesting thing. A gift given to a certain number of people in a broad range of fields. I always used to think of talent as something that you either had or you didn't. But the more I look at it the more I think that there are actually two different kinds of talent: the given kind and the earned.

I have (if I may be so bold to say) "given" talent in art and painting (though it's gotten rusty from disuse lately). I understand the ease that this kind of talent brings. Yes, I had to take lessons and practice, but none of it ever seemed very hard. I understood everything the teacher told me and could both execute their teachings as well as transfer it to other projects. When I was younger I thought everyone could do what I did. Then I saw how much some of my fellow students struggled and realized that this was not so.

Then I started writing.

I do not have "given" talent for writing. My first stories sucked. Seriously, they were bad. Hollow characters, clich├ęs, bad grammar, the works. And it doesn't help that I'm dyslexic and couldn't spell my way out of a paper bag. But despite the difficulties writing was something I enjoyed and was something I wanted to better myself in.

The first writing class I took I found that I was one of those students that "just didn't get it." I saw how many of the others in the class got "ah! I see." moments while I sat embarrassed, hiding my confused and badly spelled notes.

For a while I retreated back to art where I felt safe, but it wasn't long before I heard the Siren's call of a new story whispering in my ear. That was when I decided that even if I didn't have "given" talent I was still going to write, and in deciding this I discovered "earned" talent.
Earned talent isn't the easy way. Nothing ever seems to work out right the first time and you always seem to need to do things over and over again before a concept sticks. That isn't the talent part. The talent is perseverance.

You may struggle with each and every thing, but the very fact that you are struggling, that you are trying, is proof that you do have this kind of talent. Earned talent is the talent of not giving up. The talent of pressing on even if it seems like nothing is happening. The talent of persevering.
That is the kind of talent that I am trying to cultivate in my writing. Over the years it has gotten easier, but I still struggle and I will continue to struggle forward.

Even if the road takes longer than with given talent, in the end, it still leads to the same place.


  1. I was just paging through random blogs via the "Next blog" link up at the top of the page and I came across yours. And this post spoke to me as a not-so-serious writer and as a friend of much more serious writers.

    Thank you for sharing. :)


  2. Hi Dee,

    Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.