current music: “Hannah Hunt” by Vampire Weekend
current mood: tired but happy
I will never understand why people think writing doesn’t require practice. So many believe to write a book, you need a spark of an idea, and a few spare hours here or there to scribble your manuscript. Those things are required, but again, what they leave out is work, work, work.
I took piano lessons starting at age five. When I was twelve, I could sight-read anything I wanted, and play any song by ear. (This isn’t an attempt to brag, just the facts.) I worked hard to get to this point. Sure, I had perfect pitch, and a real innate, maybe-she’s-born-with-it musical instinct. But I practiced for hours every day in order to master this instrument. As I got older, and began sharing my music publicly, the number one comment I got was how sheer and raw my talent was.
Talent took me a long way. Talent let me have an understanding of music akin to a foreign language. But at seventeen, I thought talent was enough to take me the whole way. My hard work diminished–why bother? I had talent! At twenty, I was still coasting on only talent. So a music career never happened for me.
I’ll never stop saying it. The best idea, the most original character, a world better than Hogwart’s (impossible), all of these are a waste if you’re not going to work. Writing great prose takes work. As does querying, and waiting for critiques, and starting new projects. All of it, work.
And in the end, it’s the hard work that separates the wheat from the chaff. There are lots of writers with a smidgen of talent. There are fewer still willing to do the work. Most are content with mediocrity: mediocre writing, mediocre settings, mediocre work.
What a shame.