I don’t know about you, but I’m still waiting for the day I get pulled aside by a teacher who lets me in on a secret. And the secret is I’m a precocious genius who has unparalleled talent, unlike anything she’s ever seen before.
And if I would just get over my horrible attitude! the world would be at my feet.
Then, she and a group of eager supporting characters would rally together to help me cross the chasm from amateur talent to professional world-dominating Nobel-prize winning celebrity in the canon. There would be books about me and movies made about my heroic journey and the impact I’ve had on society.
In 45 years, professors will be painstakingly combing through my high school journals trying to decode the deep meaning of that pro’s and con’s list I made about whether I should have a crush on Steve or Neil. And how that one page influenced my later work in a profound way that 7th graders will be forced to analyze in classes in which they’re obligated to read my books.
AH YES, THE DREAM!
THERE IS STILL TIME FOR THE DREAM.
There’s not. Not in a fatalistic way, it’s just kind of a moot point now because I discovered fairly early (because everyone told me) that I was indeed not talented. I went through most English classes virtually unnoticed and managed to get a bachelor’s in literature while having most of my writing ignored.
The closest I got to being recognized for my “talent” was being labeled as “over-complicated and moody” by my family, which is about as close to being a professional writer as you can get in some circles…
At a certain point, you have to make a choice about your dream. Pull an Elsa and let it go, or make a new plan. Elsa sucks so I made a new plan (I’m sorry, but Anna is by far the superior character).
Whether I’m talented is neither here nor there, the fact is there are many types of writers and the world needs ALL OF US.
It needs our crappy writing. Our rambly writing. Our talentless hack stuff. Our broody derivative stuff. Our one-brilliant-sentence in a sea of verbosity stuff. Even legal writing has a place.
Mastery is fun to study, but I’m more interested in the stories that don’t get told because the world told us we weren’t good enough.
Talent helps, that’s true. But as someone who has been told repeatedly, she has none, it seems you can carve out a niche for yourself quite nicely if you just keep doing the thing they told you you suck at. Turns out (spoiler alert) you improve.
That’s the secret teachers should tell us: You get better.
Lamenting a lack of talent is boring, anyway. I’m also no good at soccer, sculpture, tag, tennis, singing, sailing, and interior decorating. And I don’t think about those deficits much either. The only difference is I don’t want to get better at those things. And in my opinion, since no one asked, I am talented. I’m just not Hemingway.
But not even Hemingway was Hemingway.
So go be you. And bring us what you have.
And then do it again.
Until it gets better.
Margo “talentless” Aaron 😉