So, this morning I read THIS article by the always spot-on Chuck Wendig. It's a lengthy read, but it is so, so important that aspirants of all kinds read it. Go read it now. Go on. I'll wait. For everyone who has read it and returned, here is an image for you to consider while we're waiting for everyone else:
Yes, is the answer. I do believe talent exists. My brother, for example, is one of those people who can pick up a musical instrument and play. He has incredible musical talent. I, it should be noted, do not. He is also really talented at video gaming. Alas, I, naturally, am not. In fact, he's one of those really annoying people that seems to be able to do anything he turns his hand to at all.
But here's the thing, I don't believe talent is uniform across the board. I am a writer. Writing is the thing I am passionate about. It is the thing I am drawn naturally towards. It is the thing I, personally, am best at.
Does it mean I'm good at it? You, dear readers, will have to decide that for yourself.
You see, while writing might be my talent, my talent may pale in comparison to someone else's talent. Subjectively, I'm talented at writing. Objectively.... well, that's a different story.
Are you confused about talent? You should be. It is, as Mr. Wendig so rightfully said, an indistinguishable thing. It is like a ghost. No one even knows what it looks like or how one acquires it. And there are serious pitfalls to relying on our talents.
Talent is worthless without work. It does not matter if you are the Rachmaninoff of writing if you never put your pen to the page. If you never finish a work, then your talent, imagined or real, was all for naught. If someone with less talent that you finishes a manuscript and gets it out into the world and it, gasp, becomes successful, it might comfort you to grumble about their lack of talent, compared to yours. Clearly they're complete hacks. How is it that this drivel got published, but your magnificence has been ignored by the world? The fact of the matter is, they made it because they put the work in. You didn't.
Talent, for all intents and purposes, matters not one whit.
What matters is the work. To quote Mr. Wendig:
The real deal is: work and thought and desire really, really matter.
You have to put the work in. You have to.
It might seem to the aspiring writer that authors gain sensational success overnight. They don't, or, at least, it is very, very rare. Usually, the author has been slaving away for years, feeling lonely and unhappy and unheard... Basically where I am right now. Yet I nave hope because behind almost every "overnight success" stand years and years and years of incredibly hard, frustrating work.
So yes, I do believe in talent. I think it is a real, however unquantifiable, thing. I also think it's a thing that doesn't matter even a little bit.
What matters is the hunger to succeed and the willingness to put in the work.
Speaking of putting in the work, I have work to get to. Oh, and, if you would like to gauge my talent or lack there of for yourself, I'm currently offering The Summer Bird free on Smashwords. It's for the next three days only, as part of their site-wide read an eBook week promotion. Click HERE to get your copy, and you can praise or slam it however you wish.