Tammy's Terrible Ts (part 2)

Its late thirty on the third coast, as I write this. I’ve just spent the past few moments trying to convince 90-year-old mother in law that the jacket on the back of the door really is her jacket whether or not her daughter gave her another jacket or whether or not the difference between a heavy black wool garment with a collar is significantly different than a purple fuzzy robe.

Considering the amount of time I spend now with furrowed brows, it’s no wonder the things are patchy. My brows that is. Not the garments.

As with time, I suppose my second T is terrible only to the extent of which you do not have it. This T however requires in my opinion the teeny tiniest bit and that is (TA DA): Talent.

Trust me. I’m a writer. I use alliteration as a tool to keep your attention because I personally have tons of talent. Or maybe I just like to mess with you. I digress. Often.

If you had no talent, you would probably have no desire to write, understanding the nature of absolutes. But if you are one of those souls who has very little talent but simply adores the craft of writing, I’ll share a secret: you CAN write a novel. Why? Because of my next T: training.

Thing is, there are loads of those out there with massive talent who never bother picking up a pen or an iPad and there are simply horrid collections of contrived sentences cobbled together and slapped under a shlock cover that are being passed off as literature.

Where do you fit in? Part of it is training. You can actually be taught to form a complete sentence, develop a theme (a theme is a link your brain makes… la la la), and all those other super-secret tricks of the trade.

Of course, we’re back to the first T. It takes time. We all start at a place in our writing with our natural ability, our talent. Where we go with that is contingent on the amount of sweat equity in the form of time and work we put into our craft. If you start with your talent and a desire to build upon it, there are myriad opportunities for growth. From the free workshop to the degree program, they are varied and abundant. If you are tentative, try a workshop or a small writers’ group. For the very timid, search for an online venue and skip the face-to-face awkwardness. Invest in a book called Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Or if you are one of those rare types who just writes for enjoyment, then simply write. Prolificacy often carries its own degree of talent development, or at least the more you write, the more chances for a gem amongst the dirt.

And finally, don’t forget to read. It’s fine to pattern your style after someone you admire as long as you don’t plagiarize, but usually that sparkle in your ink is only truly illuminated when you find your own voice. Education, therefore, helps you use it correctly so you don’t lose it. Really, the only thing terrible about talent is when it is wasted. You may never quit your day job or even publish regularly independent of the amount of sheer talent gifted you at your birth, but any talent you have, if you have an inclination to do so, deserves development.

And if I cannot encourage you, here is the horrific warning:

The horror of a brain that can no longer learn is real. I live with the owner of such a brain, every day. I watch the decline. And when she was still lucid, she told me one of the saddest things I ever heard. She said she didn’t want to learn anything new. And now? She can’t.

Time and talent. Both precious. And for you – on this side of the veil? FINITE.

Tammy Boehm, Associate Editor