I have a natural talent for writing. That’s not being immodest or bragging. It’s just true. And I’ve always had it, although some of the stuff I wrote as a teen ager was adolescent sentimental fantasy. That talent got me through school and I have made money from it. But, I would gladly trade that natural talent for a natural talent for music, or what it takes to sit in command of a 747. But natural talents are handed out by God, and we don’t get a chance to choose which ones we get. I have played music and I have flown a lot of airplanes “back in the day” but I never had the natural talent like those who were really good at either of those activities. And, I envied them.
I happen to think that everybody has a natural talent for something. How many times have you watched someone casually perform some task that you would find impossible, and they toss it off with, “Ah, that’s nothing. That’s easy to do.”
There is a difference in being talented and being lucky. But sometimes people mistake one for the other. The thing is, you have to recognize your talent (and everybody has one or more, I’m convinced) but like any skill it has to be nurtured and grown with practice…practice…practice. Arnold Palmer, certainly one of the most natural golfers of all time once said, “It’s funny, the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
But practice is hard and it’s easy to find something easier to do. You just don’t have the motivation. I recently finished a year of writing my latest novel “September Song” and I feel like I am in a fallow period. It’s like the well is dry. And, it’s okay to take time off between novels, to give your imagination time to refill the well. Martin Cruz Smith, in my opinion, the finest word smith of our time, takes about five years between novels. But when they come out, they are masterpieces in the art of fiction.
I have an author friend who is very successful. I told him, “You know, right now I’m just not motivated.” And he said, “Do you know the difference in being a hobbyist writer and a professional writer?”
“I’m not sure,” I answered.
He said, “A professional writer works even when he or she would rather do anything else. Knowing that makes me motivated every morning at eight o’clock.”
Enough said. Gotta get back to work!