When I was young girl, a teacher asked me, “If you could pick which talent you excelled at, what talent would that be?” As a child, that question was like asking me which one superpower would I like to have. All of them were cool. Why couldn’t I be a great singer who could play a musical instrument and paint as well? I thought about it long and hard, and finally decided that if I could pick out just one talent to possess, it would be to have a dynamite singing voice. My reasoning behind this choice was simplistic: singers got recognized and it was something I loved to do. Even though I was already writing, I would have given it up in a heart-beat to have the voice of an angel. Singers get respect, they get record deals and they make money. Lots of money. And they all seemed to live a much more glamorous lifestyle than a nerdy kid with braces who carried around a huge green folder overstuffed with pieces of loose leaf paper.
That was then. Now when asked what talent I would like to have, I answer, “I already have the best talent in the world. I am a writer.”
This particular talent is, of course, the hardest talent to prove. As a singer, you can sing any song that someone else has created to prove that you have a great singing voice. As a musician, you can play any song that someone else has created to prove that you can play a musical instrument. As a painter, you can recreate any painting in existence to prove that you are a gifted painter. The same goes for sculpting or drawing or any other type of artistic endeavor. As a writer, though, you cannot copy something that someone else has already created to prove that you are a good writer. Instead, you must create your own story, your own characters, your own little world and all the rules that govern that world. You create something out of nothing, painting pictures and making music play in the background and have angels singing, all while using nothing but words as your medium.
This is not to say that singing or painting or playing a musical instrument is any less hard to accomplish than writing. Like all talents, one only gets better with lots and lots of practice. Writing is often a temperamental mistress. I imagine it is much the same with painting or drawing, it is only when the muse strikes and inspiration sets in that one can pull out the inner eloquence that is trying to burst forth. Some days I cannot seem to put together two coherent sentences. Other days the words flow as smooth and easily as water over river rocks. Sometimes what I am trying to express comes out sounding just right. Often times, though, it takes a lot of work, a lot of editing to get a scene to read the way that I see it happening inside of my head. Most days, putting sentences together into something that remotely resembles what is dancing around in my mind is like pulling teeth.
I keep thinking that it should get easier after so many years, much as I assume that singing gets easier after spending twenty-eight years of your life singing the same notes over and over again. What I am quickly discovering is that writing is never easy. No matter how many stories I write, no matter how many novels I have under my belt, writing them is never easy. I have never had something to just pour forth from my fingers like sand through the hourglass. Writing, for me at least, is like chiseling away at marble with an ice pick and hammer. I eventually get the job done, but it seems to take forever and oftentimes feels like it is a bit rougher around the edges than I’d like for it to be. I don’t mind that writing is hard and takes a lot of work. I suppose you could call it a labor of love. I know that anything worth doing well is going to be filled with trials and tribulations. For me, knowing that I have put my entire heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into a story means that I have done my absolute best. Nothing else matters. It is hard work, but because I worked so hard and put forth my all into each and every word, I appreciate the end product so much more. At the end of the day, no matter how many storylines there are that sound like mine, I have written something that is uniquely my own because no one else can write exactly like me. Writing may be the hardest talent to prove, but I accept the challenge with open arms…and a whole lot of Whiteout.