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Do You have Talent?

Do You have Talent?

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Published by Julie Gray
How do you know? Where do you get it? Is it necessary? Do successful writer really need it?
How do you know? Where do you get it? Is it necessary? Do successful writer really need it?

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Published by: Julie Gray on Aug 27, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/06/2012

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The "T" WordRecently, as all good Wavers know, The Wave-inatrix started an interestingconversation about talent. Or - it - as it is sometimes colloquially referred toin the biz. The post sparked a healthy debate and dialogue. Is talent necessary tosucceed? Who decides if you have "it"? Can talent be cultivated, taught orhabituated? Most importantly, is talent some kind of mysterious word bandied aboutto keep the competition out? Don't bother - you don't have "it". Talent is amysteriously arrived at, exclusive quality that only writers of the highest castehave.My opinion - and it is only an opinion - is that yes, having that mysteriousfacility with words and story herein referred to as "talent" is crucial to havinga paid writing career. And I define paid writing career to encompass novels, shortfiction, essays, journalism, screenwriting and no doubt a couple of other mediumsthat are at the moment escaping me. Writers who lack talent are not, in general,published for public consumption. Because editors, agents and managers of allstripes receive too much for the slush pile to pay someone who ain't got thatthang.Does determination and perseverance matter - oh god yes. But if you don't havetalent, perseverance is meaningless. If you got it, you got it and you always hadit. If you don't, you don't.I think that thought is absolutely terrifying to aspiring writers.And it is complicated by the fact that while I do believe talent is inborn fromday one, it does need to be identified and groomed. If Michael Phelps had grown upin a Bedouin family with no access to a swimmable body of water, perhaps histalent would never have blossomed into more than a great eye for a distant oasis.Or perhaps like a character in a sweeping novel, he would have traveled greatdistances seeking open bodies of water, mysteriously drawn ever forward by adesire and dream he couldn't articulate only to later write a clumsy novel aboutthe experience that is picked up by a publisher with an eye toward a clearlyunique story, who then hires a ghost-writer to tell the Wandering ErstwhileSwimming Bedouin memoir in an entertaining way. And that, Wavers, was what theycall in school a run-on sentence. But I digress.Here's the reality - everybody has talent. For something. Music, cooking,teaching, ping pong, diplomacy, animal husbandry, organizing, motivating,salesmanship, growing stuff, making stuff, swimming - something. Everybody has atalent. But not everybody has writing talent.And it is a matter of great curiosity for me and some indignation, thatconsistently, the general public seems to feel that writing is somehow easy. Maybeit's because of the way we look, or the way we often work at home in our socks, ormaybe we're just so cool we make it look easy. But the perception that what we dois somehow easy and can be learned by purchasing a few books on the topic ismaddening and when I'm in a bad mood - demeaning. So many writers were outsidersgrowing up; the freaks, the geeks, the homebodies and we were misunderstood andabused for it. And now we're cool? And now our talents are instantly accessible bydilettantes and pretenders?? That the occasional indignation that arises like hotlava. And dilettante, by the way is the word we writers use when it's gettin' uglyand we're pissed. Oh yeah, we fight with words. Gol darn it.The thing with talent that makes it a fun and provocative topic is that it is aselusive as hell and almost impossible to define. Which is why, ironically enough,"it" is a fairly accurate word for talent. Although of course, "it" is generally

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