WriterWoes #4: What’s in a talent?

This will be a long one, I warn you.

I almost didn’t want to delve into this question.

Why, you ask?

Well, delving into this question means delving into a debate that is as old as time – the debate as to whether talent trumps hard work or vice versa – and I feel that there is next to nothing new to say about it, so why should people want to hear my two cents in the matter?

But, but, but—then I remembered an interview with Neil Gaiman. He always proves a great inspiration to me, and he is often on my mind while I write my own pieces. In this particular interview, a member of the audience bemoans how she wants to be a director, but she has been told multiple times that there are too many artists in the world, and that she should pursue something more noteworthy than directing. Gaiman responds as such: “saying that there are enough artists is like saying we have enough scientists, we have enough designers, we have enough politicians (…) but nobody gets to be you except you. Nobody has your point of view – except you.”

Now, when I first heard this interview some odd years ago, his answer resonated strongly with me, and I find that it still does to this date.

Why am I paraphrasing this interview now?

Well, even if the talent/work debate is as old as time and has been discussed by far more established and adept authors than yours truly, my two cents in the matter still remains of value… because nobody has my point of view except for me!

And, so, what is my point of view?

In the 7th or 8th grade, I had a teacher that I, to this date, still remain in contact with. In Denmark, you have what we call “class-teachers”, meaning a teacher that follows you consistently from 1st till 9th grade. In my case, that was my Danish/English teacher by the name of Lene (and my math teacher, but that’s kinda irrelevant for this conversation; sorry, Jes!). I consider Lene the very reason that I decided to pursue a life in writing. Never before have I received the same interest and support as I did from her, not even as I got older and the opportunities for mentoring began to properly present themselves to me.

My point of view in this debate has, in all probability, sprung from hers. I remember quite clearly how she one day stood up from behind her desk and told us, the many hopeful youngsters sitting before her, that 50 percent talent/passion and 50 percent hard work would take you far in whatever endeavor you should choose to pursue in life.

I’m aware that this might be seen as a halfassed answer to a much difficult debate, but that’s not the way I see it. The way I see it, you cannot succeed in any craft unless you make the effort to cultivate and actualize your talent/passion.

Like good and evil, and like black and white, one cannot exist without the other.

Without talent and passion, there will be no effort.

Without effort, there will be no beautiful, breathing, actualized talent.

That is my point of view, and it is a point of view that is not liable to change any time soon, but rather live on to a seventeenth- twentieth- thirtieth- XXXX anniversary.

Phew…

So, I think I’ll let that be the end. Yes?

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