I read a blog post by Ilona Andrews. Her readers often send her questions, (I’m jealous), and she often tries to answer them. This time, someone asked about talent. And her reply was thoughtful and insightful. https://ilona-andrews.com/2021/talent/ And it made me think.
If I had to define talent, I guess I think of it as a natural ability, something you might be better at than someone else, to begin with. But that’s the defining thing, isn’t it? “To begin with.” Because talent, on its own, doesn’t get you far.
If I’d have had to make it as a writer on only talent, I’d be doing something else right now. I had some talent. My teachers said so. Editors said so. But it wasn’t enough to propel me….much of anywhere. But it was enough to give me enough little trickles of success to keep going.
The sorry truth is that you might be really good at something, but if you don’t work at it, develop it, and THINK about it, you’ll do all right…maybe…but you probably won’t find big success. And everyone defines “big” differently. Success is one of those words that carries a lot of different baggage. Do you mean a New York Times bestseller? A USA Today bestseller? Making it into the top 100 on Amazon lists? So much money you can swim in it like Scrooge McDuck? Or enough to give you pocket money like a second job? Everyone hopes for something different. But I don’t think talent is enough to get you to where you probably want to be.
Writing takes work and dedication, and usually, time. A lot of time. You can put that time in, a little here and there, over the years–like I did. Or you can go for broke and write like a demon to hit success sooner. But there are no guarantees in writing. And that’s the worrisome part. I loved writing enough…and had enough success trickle in a little at a time… to keep me encouraged. I consider myself lucky. I had lots of failures but enough successes. And I don’t know what the answer is to when to call it quits and take a break. Because I have an awful feeling that once writing worms its way around your heart, you have a hard time turning away from it. I’ve known some people who have, though, but I think later in their lives, they might return to it.
Writing, for me, is a wonderful/terrible addiction. I haven’t learned how to say ‘no’ to it.