Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Talent . . . Where Does It Come From?

Every family seems to have one who takes an interest and grows it into an outstanding talent. Of my nephews and nieces, there are currently 3 shining stars.

My nephew Josh just did this amazing 6-foot sculpture that was recently attached to the side of the art and science building at Bethany College in Kansas. It was inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian man. He also has some paintings that really wow me. He graduated that same college last year and is now gallery manager at an art center.

I also have two nieces who have excelled in music. At eighteen Rachael is quite professional sounding on her harp and gets paid to play at special events. Her younger sister Stephanie is really shining in piano.

So how does a talent develop? Hard work.

I think I’ve dreamed of being a writer since reading Little House in the Big Woods. I was captured by story and wanted to write things to inspire others in a similar way. But am I a talented writer?

I’ve dabbled through the years in college classes, in writing out ideas and unfinished scene starters. I’ve even had a few short stories published. But if I’m a talented author, I haven’t taken the time to work hard to learn to develop that skill, so my talent may never be realized.

Josh, Rachael, and Stephanie have put in many painful hours honing their interests into real talent.

I can’t expect to one day sit down to write a 100,000-word novel and expect it to be a work of art without having put in many painful hours of work ahead of time. There will be practices in crafting plots, dialogue, and so forth. There will be some successful encouragement and some discouraging rejection. But it is all a part of the honing process.

I believe it is only after we are willing to put in real work and surrender what talent was seeded within us to God that He steps in and brings that talent to full light.

Perhaps you are discouraged today by all the painful work that you are having to put into your writing interests – the money to attend a writing conference, the time away from other things in your life, the insecurity and rejections. It is all a part of honing the process so that you can be proficient and someday able to write a whole string of publishable work that readers will notice as something above the ordinary.

A one-book-wonder author doesn’t know what they did to get there and can’t repeat it. So keep working on the foundation of your talent – pain and all.



Jess said...

Great post, Becky. I recently bought a book by John Maxwell called Talent is Never Enough but my husband confiscated it and started reading it. He says it's really good. :)

What about those golden boys who succeed at everything they do with little effort? My brother is that kind of guy. That's not to say he hasn't worked hard but he hasn't had the struggle. (I'm sure he'd argue with me.) But God's blessed him tremendously. Maybe he got all the "natural" talent in the family. We used to tease him that he was like Dallas' Digger Barnes: he could smell oil and know exactly where to drill. He seems to succeed at everything he does--creative things too. Of course, he did take a risk on a crop of peas once and lost his shirt. LOL

Still, I'd hate for him to decide he wants to write a book. Yikes!

Thanks for this post. I sure feel like I'm chasing my tail these days. :( But the feeling will pass. It usually does.

Mary Connealy said...

I had twenty finished manuscripts on my computer when I sold my first book.
I can remember, time after time, staring at the computer with a new story in my head that wanted to be written and I'd focus and pray and, before I'd type one word, I'd think, "This time, use everything you know, everything you've learned."
Then the next book I'd think the same thing.
And each time I'd know a little more.
I still like my earlier books. I think I have a talent for thinking up good story ideas, but there's so much more to it than the story, it's telling it, it's starting right, it's active voice, it's scene setting and senses and on and on ... there's just so much and I try every time use everything I know. And I hope I never stop knowing more.

Kristy Dykes said...

Loved your post, Becky! Very inspiring. I've determined to continue learning things about writing "until my toes turn up," as one country woman said. I want to excel.

Also loved the pics you posted. Congrats to your nephew and nieces on all they've accomplished.

Rhonda said...

Love the pictures Becky. Your nephew and nieces are very talented. Congratulations to them for working hard at their craft!

Jennifer Johnson said...

Hi Becky,
Your post is humbing and yet very true. Anything worth having is worth the pain, effort, sweat, determination, it takes to get it. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Janice Thompson said...

Blood, sweat and tears... these are the things books are made of. Yes, talent plays a role (as in all of the arts) but without the work, talent is like a shooting star - here one minute, gone the next.

I taught drama and music at a Christian school of the arts for several years and many of my students were supremely talented. A select few started out that way (with God-given gifts that just came naturally). Others began the arduous task of working hard to "become" talented. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, I know. But those kids - the ones who did the work - often blossomed into super-amazing talents, blowing folks away with their skills. That's what blood, sweat and tears will do for you - grow you into something that might even surprise you!

Yes, writing is hard work. Sometimes I feel like I'd rather dig ditches, to be honest. But God honors our diligence. He doesn't give up on us; we don't give up on developing the gifts He graciously bestows on us.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite scriptures from 2 Timothy 1:6: "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."