Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, August 11th, 2011.
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Dean Wesley Smith: “All my early report cards said I had no talent for writing”


I do tend to go on a little about the myth of inborn talent, but then, it’s an idea that’s been smushed deep into the fabric of our culture, like gum ground into a carpet. Still, my apologies to people who’ve heard me play this tune a couple too many times already.

To see what I have to say about talent, read my posts “Useful Book: Talent is Overrated” or “Why I’m Proud to Have Been an Unoriginal, Talentless Hack,” or “Do you have enough talent to become great at it?,” or my Futurismic column “Critique, Mentors, Practice, and a Million Words of Garbage.” Or else ignore me and read Dean Wesley Smith’s post, “The Myth of Talent,” a chapter in the book he’s writing called “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing,” in which he writes:

In school I hated writing because I was so bad at it. If I had listened to all the people who told me I had no talent for writing, I would have quit four decades ago. No, make that five decades ago, because all my early report cards said I had no talent for writing.

Now, after millions and millions of words practiced, many books and stories published, I get comments all the time like, “You are a talented writer, of course you can do it.”

Or one I got the other day. “You have the talent to write fast.”

Talent is something we build, not something that’s bestowed on us. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to build it naturally in the course of other activities, and other times we have to work like hell to get it, but what’s a little working like hell in the grand scheme of things?


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