Wednesday 15 October 2008

Writing to your strengths

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the difference between talents and skills. Somewhere in there as well is passion and vision, desire and plainly what you enjoy doing. Wouldn’t it be great not to dread Monday mornings, not to cringe at the thought of interaction with particular individuals and to so love your work that weekends seem a superfluity?
It’s also my experience that every job I’ve ever had, every commission I’ve ever got, every / publisher I’ve ever worked with, when I’ve examined what has happened in retrospect, has turned out to be absolutely the right one from a selection. Having said that, there’s always an aspect of any job that one likes least. So you still experience the joy when you’re doing the parts you like most.
So, how does this translate into what I’m doing now?
I’ve had five fiction books accepted recently. One is already with the publisher and I’m doing a final edit on a second. A third is ready to go but will actually only be accepted if the two sequels – it is the first part of a trilogy - are written. Gulp!
I’m also publishing and editing a collection of short stories. I’m having great fun with that, though I hope the authors involved will be happy with the sales. With marketing anyway, I have to be in the mood.
I’ve had a commission to write a resource for teachers of French. I’m basing it very much on my philosophy of how language should be learnt and taught and it’s almost writing itself.
Then there is my job as Lecturer in Creative Writing. It feels like a privilege. I’m being paid for what I used to do as a hobby. However, with that come certain responsibilities and I do feel the weight of them occasionally. The day by day work is fun and comfortable, though. I have great colleagues and students.
So, I guess the passion is in the fiction and the certainty I feel about language learning. There is developing skill and latent talent in the former and developed skill in the latter. I actually enjoy putting my thoughts into words and typing them out via a computer. Fiction drains me emotionally and non-fiction sometimes gives me a headache. I sleep well at night, though, if I’ve done a fair chunk of work in one of these areas.
Talent? Do I have talent? Aren’t our talents birth gifts which fade if we don’t use them and even though they’re given, must be developed? Great of course if talent, skill and passion all line up. I’m working on it.

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