Evelyn Chartres Author
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Do You Have to Have Talent to Succeed

I came across an article by Jennifer Derrick entitled Do You Have to Have Talent to Succeed?

This article is a great read, however it did make me consider certain assumptions I made in the past. Becoming great at something does not mean we are great in all aspects. The author mentioned that she was good at being a seamstress, however that alone would not make her a great fashion designer.  Sure a seamstress can mend clothing or follow a pattern, but could she create a new line of clothing on her own?  Alternatively, does a good fashion designer need to be a good seamstress? The answer is likely no.

When it comes to being a writer what elements are required to be successful? Does an author need to be a great wordsmith, an awe-inspiring editor, excellent at assembling realistic dialogue or just creative?  A writer, like being a designer require more than one skill in order to be successful in my mind.  An author may have not be able to go toe-to-toe against the worlds foremost Grammar-Nazi, however if the author can create compelling worlds, they will likely gain a following.

Even the above fails to take in every aspect. Being a great wordsmith and having the ability to create worlds that people fall in love with their works, will by itself not guarantee an audience. Self-published authors are expected to grow an audience, else they will never  gain traction.  So that means there is also a bit of luck thrown into the mix, and there people are required to grow their brand.  Most authors cannot afford to be so arrogant that they alienate their followers.

The author also noticed that many seem to give up on their dreams. I found that people tend to avoid doing things because they cannot be the best as it or they cannot handle the competitive atmosphere. In a way, being a nameless cog in the corporate machine is healthier (for some) than being in a perpetual survival mode.

I also want to note that the 10,000 hour mastery rule has been debunked. That number was normalised and is based on a specific field who were tested at a certain age.  Essentially, it serves a number which equates to the amount of effort required to master a discipline. Mastery of any field requires time and dedication, regardless of their global ranking. However that number is not the same for everyone, the truly gifted will need a lot less time.

Just my opinion of course!

6 Hard Truths Every Writer Should Accept

A friend passed on this Writers Digest article about 6 Hard Truths Every Writer Should Accept and mentioned there should be a seventh.  For them —you’re not half as awesome as you think you are— is a lesson all authors need to know.

The list of truths is as follows:

  1. It won’t be your first novel.
  2. First drafts always suck.
  3. Your husband, mother, sister, best friend, co-worker or the neighbour who is a high school English teacher does not qualify as a critique partner.
  4. Your journey will not be the same journey as your peers.
  5. Being good isn’t good enough.
  6. Pay your dues.

Personally, I do not agree with a couple of the points made.

Pay your dues

In all industries there are people that are so well connected or at the right place and time that success is immediate. For some people, easy is the only path they follow since they have never tasted hard.

Sure there are always challenges, since those are inevitable in life.  However, one cannot help but wonder if some people are playing the game of life on easy, while others are on nightmare mode.

Now should we plan on such an outcome?  Hell no!  But it’s not a universal truth.

Your husband, mother, sister, best friend, co-worker or the neighbour who is a high school English teacher does not qualify as a critique partner.

I disagree with using people to critique who are not writers.  We all have a voice and it may click well readers (those who buy) and not other authors.  Another author may be experienced in writing a novel, but not work for what you have in mind.  Again these are not universal truths.

A good example of this I found while reading a National Post article titled Why America’s greatest humorist was Mark Twain in public and Samuel Clemens in private.  A quote from the article makes my point:

He (Twain) thought little of George Eliot or Henry James, two novelists still considered first-class, but he often praised the books of his friend William Dean Howells, who is now nearly forgotten.

mark_twain_underwood_1907_33433512Mark Twain was an icon who had tapped into the nerve of the literary public and yet denounced authors who made it.  It could have been personal, it could have been style, but his praise or scorn did not determine their place in history.

My friend commented that there are folks out there who are well schooled in certain genres and are willing to beta-read.  It could be just a matter of it being a hobby or even their passion.  Getting another writer you are chummy with is also asking for trouble, since its like asking a friend to say —tell me I’m brilliant.— That may not be your intention, but that’s how they will probably take it.

You’re Not Half as Awesome as You Think You Are

Likely one of the most poignant truths any author can discover.  However, this particular author may have assumed that such revelations need to be made by the author.