Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Are writers born or made? I don’t know. Are chess players? I think we have talents. Some of us are born with abilities that make us great at certain tasks. This doesn’t mean that the top of every profession is peopled with those born with the most talent.

To write one has to achieve literacy. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are excellent storytellers who have not mastered literacy (even when given the opportunity) – could dyslexia be considered a negative talent? Once one can speckle a paper with a language comprehensible to others one can write. Can one write a story? a poem? a screenplay? Is it a story, poem or screenplay that works for other people? Then, do you have the stamina (or luck) it takes to get that written thing in front of all the eyes necessary to get it published, distributed, reviewed, sold, passed from hand to hand? There are lots of steps between the writing and the making a living off the writing. I write poetry. There isn’t money in it. Thus my steps don’t lead to the writing paying my bills. (A lot of poets earn their way teaching.) Still, it’s not unreasonable to think I could get a little more published, distributed, reviewed, sold (even!), etc. What I seem to have a negative talent for is marketing. I kind of laugh to myself about it. The key is doing it. Like writing. You don’t get a book if you hang back afraid of the page.

Yesterday I talked about my high school classmate Diana Hennessy. She planned to be writer. And she certainly has the talent for it. She hasn’t applied herself to the writing. Thus she hasn’t produced a manuscript and without a manuscript there’s no way to get to the book. I think she could write a book – novel, short stories, even poems. Every so often I get a card from her that says she’s thinking about writing again. She’s run a few marathons. Those are harder on the knees.

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