In second grade, we had journals (those composition books with the speckled black and white covers) that we had to write in daily. Usually my teacher would write a prompt on the board and we had to write at least a page or two, if I remember correctly.
I don’t remember a specific day or prompt or praise, but at some point over the course of that year, I learned/decided/was told that I had a knack for writing. (In fact, I do remember hearing my second-grade teacher tell another teacher at the school say “Allison has a knack for writing like you wouldn’t believe.”) And ever since then, I’ve just sort of accepted that I’m at least above average at writing.
(What I’m still not so great at is finishing, but that’s a whole other thing to work on.)
I wish I had taken writing — specifically fiction writing — more seriously when I was young, working harder on writing and finishing my dumb middle school and high school stories and actually entering them in contests or doing something to get feedback and force myself to grow and improve. Because you know the saying “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”?
I am really grateful for my ability to communicate through the written word. I’m grateful for my creative ideas and I’m grateful that I can, to some degree innately, manipulate language to get them across. I could really geek out and get all squee here about you guys this is nuts, think about it, these arbitrary shapes on the screen or on a page turn into sounds and words and meaning and it all came out of my freaking head. These strange little markings you’re seeing and perceiving and understanding are the physical embodiment of random neurons firing in my brain and ISN’T THAT LIKE THE CRAZIEST THING EVER? SERIOUSLY EVER??
I love writing and I’m grateful my skills have been recognized and, at times, rewarded by teachers and my parents and bosses and clients.
Talent doesn’t mean shit.
It’s a cruel trick when you’re talented at something you hate (see: Andre Agassi, tennis). Or when you love and want to be the best at something that just doesn’t come naturally to you.
When you’re lucky, you’re passionate about whatever your talent is (be it dancing, singing, writing computer code, fixing cars, making people laugh, baking cupcakes, removing tumors, playing chess, selling cable service, origami, whatever). When you’re really lucky, you’re passionate about a talent that can be used in a way to earn a living. And when you’re really, really lucky, you’re passionate about a talent that can earn money and make the world a better place in some way.
But how many of us are that lucky?
I guess what I’m really grateful for is I genuinely enjoy writing, and that there is a viable way for me to have a career if I work hard at developing this talent that I have.