This is a quick break from my normal blog posts. Usually, I don’t focus on the subject of writing, but recently there has been an article floating around the writing community in which a former writing teacher claims writers are born with talent. The article also states that if an individual wasn’t writing seriously at a young age then he/she is not likely to “make it”.
The article making these claims is here: http://www.thestranger.com/books/features/2015/02/27/21792750/things-i-can-say-about-mfa-writing-programs-now-that-i-no-longer-teach-in-one
While I certainly respect the author’s right to his opinion, I strongly disagree with his conclusions. I think the assertion that writers are born with talent is dangerous insofar as some really talented writers could be discouraged from pursuing their dreams if they tend to struggle with the process of transforming concepts into words. I refuse to believe there is an ELECT group of writers out there who are genetically predisposed to writing well. More importantly, I wouldn’t dare to assume that an individual cannot learn to be a good writer over time.
And what the hell is a “good writer” who can “make it” anyway?
I’m 40-years-old and can’t make myself finish Great Expectations, but I’m relatively certain I shouldn’t be criticizing that Dickens fella. Dickens could write, but I don’t particularly enjoy his works. Does that mean I’m not a good reader?? Should I blame genetics for that one? And I’m not a great writer by any means, but does that mean people won’t be entertained by my books?
Several days ago, I was speaking to a room full of people and I said (truthfully) that I do not think I am a particularly good writer. The crowd was kind enough to disagree (I was speaking for free). However, I really don’t think I’m a “talented” writer. I DO think I can convey a decent story, but I think there may be a distinction between good writing and good storytelling.
Does a good storyteller have to have been born with talent? What about a good musician? A painter? Where does it stop?
Regardless, I don’t think it matters one bit if writers are born with talent. I was born left-handed, but I learned to use right-handed scissors. I made some bad cuts, but I learned from those mistakes and improved (although not much) over time. The fact the scissors were not designed for me does not mean I need to leave the cutting to the other 90% of the population. If you are one of the people who thinks I should… well, you probably shouldn’t be around me when I have a sharp object anyway.
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.