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The Quintessence of Talent (Pt 1 of 3)

Writers write. Or do they? Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if there is no one there to hear it? Does it in fact fall, if there is no one there to witness the fact? Does a writer write if what he puts down is never, ever read by another person? Is ‘being published’ a true measure of talent, or is it simply a milestone indicating how much time has been dedicated to the posterior-grooming of the powers that be?

In martial arts a black belt will not imbue the wearer with magical kung fu super powers, only dedication and hard work can hone one’s talent elevating it above the mundane.

I am NOT AT ALL saying that being published is irrelevant, no. I feel it is a great achievement, however, for a starting writer, it is virtually impossible to pursue two careers at once: that of a writer and that of a publicist. Most people have to choose and few of us choose art over money. Although ‘being published’ is an integral part of a writer’s career and will certainly allow the writer to garner acclaim and possibly secure a sustainable income, it is not essential to his/her being.

Publishing is a hard business and all of us, keyboard warriors hope to one day make a living doing what we love. It is just unfortunate that so much wasted time and doing what we loathe lies between us and our literary nirvana.Wasting-Time-in-Social-Media

Gone are the days of the Greek philosophers and Roman scholars when the ability to read silently in itself, was marvelled at as a pinnacle of scholarly achievement. These days information is not reserved just for the privileged echelons and any ham-fisted pleb may hammer words out on his/her keyboard and vie for readers’ attention. The plethora of information sources is truly staggering and wonderful, however, the adverse effect is that with the web being deluged with hopeful prattle, it becomes increasingly arduous for readers to winnow the poseurs, dabblers and hobbyists from people with genuine talent and message. As a result, the readers become even more ornery and stingy with their time when seeking relevant information. The ultimate tragedy is that the modern reader frequently navigates by the falsehoods of insipid ‘likes’ and sizes of online fandoms when picking a reading list. Just as with video games, whoever plays longest and hardest at garnering point will have the coveted ‘high score’ on twitter of fb, but what perceived value do these ‘points’ really represent? If one spends all one’s time playing networking, when, pray tell, does one actually work at being a good writer? Of course, all things in moderation… Balance is key.

These days, writers may write, but only after they’ve diligently done all their chores: beat their chest on social media, promoting their latest creation; pontificate on their blog about facts of life (as I am doing right now); senIMG_1948d out a ton of query letters into the hungry void; fill out application forms and enter various (mostly-meaningless) contests; research the market; network with other people in the business; attend events, grant interviews and in general strive to attract copious amounts of attention to themselves and/or their book and so on and so forth. So these days the expression should be: writers try to write amidst the maelstrom of hype and trivial (albeit time-devouring) hassle bollixing up the creative process.

The most obvious shortcoming of most budding writers is financial ineptitude—yes, I, myself too am currently stuck in this particular quagmire. As a result I can’t spend as much time working on my books as I would like. However it is these ‘valleys’ that winnow true writers from fair-weather hobbyists.

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2012 by in Much ado about writing.

Ken Temple on Twitter

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