Monday, July 26, 2010

Talent

They say that if you write fast you can write like an animal. They say that if your pen or pencil never stops moving, not even for those words you can't place your fingers on, not even for punctuation and spelling, that you can become fierce and ferocious and wonderful. But don't you dare stop and think things through. If you just keep that pen's tip flowing through the blank page in ruthless ambition you will eventually hammer out a miracle. You will somehow tap your way into something you could never dream of. Just don't stop writing. You keep that pencil flaring and you ignore those pains in your hands and that ache of slow moving ink that can never keep up with the words in your head. If you don't stop writing, never-ever stop writing, you can tap into the window of your soul.

I don't know if all that is true. I'm not sure I can believe it. My hand just hurts too often and all the words just seem so... so, ordinary. I'm no miracle worker and my hand cramps up like the first week of football practice. But I must follow the formula because I never know what to write anymore. I've lost a gift and a love to much greater miracle workers than myself. Thank you very much Mr. Raymond Carver. Thank you John Steinbeck. You've made me ordinary again. Average. Normal. Nothing special. I'm just a river of incomplete ideas and a lost cause. I much more prefer floating atop the current of characters and big ideas sent down stream almost effortlessly from the hands of men.

I don't have many ideas of my own. I can't paint a picture with a brush, a breath, or a fountain pen. I can't make the real seem surreal any better than I can fight a bull or win the heart of a lady. I can't throw down crisp letters and words that somehow manage to stay both seamless and broken. I can't point out the injustices of life any better than I can point out life's true beauty. It doesn't really matter how fast I keep my pencil moving. The words still remain just that, words. Mere words, jumbled and broken. Nothing to make a heart skip a beat. Nothing to wrap a mind around.

Maybe that is why I change hobbies faster than puberty changes little boys. I could never take my own breath away. I could never jot down something to be proud of. I could never work hard enough to impress myself and I always fall in love with that next medium. It's all so amateur. Little words from a little man afraid to grow into something bigger. Afraid to allow talent to mature through that awkward stage. Afraid to let puberty run its course and endure those late teens and early twenties. My hands will never find themselves because my mind is so far in front of them. Yeah, that hand drawn pick axe is cute, but its no Mona Lisa. That's a pretty little essay you got there, too bad you'll never cast a character quite like Adam Trask. Enjoy that riverbank you so casually fish from because you'll never release anything quite so profound as the day's big catch.

What is talent anyway? Is it merely another man's work? Is it simply the right place at the right time coupled with the heartache of ignoring one's own shortcomings? Is it the industrial age stomping out the individual's individuality until he can't take it anymore? Is it a man grasping, reaching, crawling just to stay himself? Is it the wonderment, the angst of trying to be understood by at least one other person? Is it a blind effort to be seen as something other than flesh and bones? Is it the inside of a man desperately trying to make its way out any way that it can? Is it a child's effort to hold the attention of a parent? Is it stomping out all the mistakes and smoothing them over and over again until finally you can spot no flaw and there is no choice left but to allow others to stomp on what's left until finally you don't care anymore and you move on to the next idea?

Let's let those run on sentences run their course. You are no Hemingway. Both of your ears are still intact and you will never be hung for an idea that is bigger than yourself. You know this. But you still don't stop trying. There is no choice but to let that pencil flow across the page no matter how average it all is. So what if you are amateur? So what if you can't fake talent? You can't fake beauty either but the world continues its cosmetic obsession because humanity refuses to accept its homeliness without a fight. You keep on trying because you don't know how to go on without that pencil and those words. So your ideas are small and your words may be without miracle. They still remain your words. And you love them, homeliness and all.

1 comment:

Gracelyn Anders said...

I love the first paragraph. I like to write, even if I don't share it with others and yes, if you have even the smallest of ideas and you just keep writing, it'll keep coming to you and it'll be amazing. If you stop and revise though, you'll lose it and the magic is gone