We know very little about talent. When I saw, we I mean the entirety of folks who have ever asked themselves what talent is. Everyone is pretty sure they can recognize it when they see it. But isn’t there something more? I had a music teacher when I was kid who said: “A lot of people have talent and a lot of people have discipline and tenacity. What you’ll find in most professional musicians is a combination of the two, and it can’t be beat.”
I agree, but there’s another question: Are discipline and tenacity simply additional manifestations of talent or are they qualities that all of us have access to and thereby not a function of innate ability?
Because if discipline and tenacity are innate talents aspiring to develop them may be like aspiring to be taller. I think this is one of the most ignored questions in all of creativedom. My belief is that you cannot readily divide talent from drive. And, there’s a good chance that the combination of what we call talent and drive are different sides of the same coin that help our betters to attain artistic heights that are hard for we mere mortals to imagine, let alone realize in our work.
Bummer, I say.
If all a given writer has on me is that he’ll outwork me, and for whatever reason I do not have what it takes to work at the same level, is he truly the more talented? We’re now likely on the cusp of trying to come up with another better descriptor like capable but every new word you or I come up with will take us right back to the same unanswerable question.
I am a believer is the search for small improvements. I believe that if I can affect an improvement in my drive as a writer, not to the level of someone who can crank out 50,000 words in a couple months, but just an improvement of a couple thousand words a month I’ll be really happy. And, the sequel to may first book will be done sooner.
But, I won’t be any more talented. I guess that will have to be good enough for me.