I started writing about four years ago in my early twenties. It's been incredibly rewarding to see my progression over that time, but I've still got a long way to go. After my first novel didn't immediately get an agent, despite a couple showing interest, I momentarily felt moderately deflated.
Can I really do this? Am I really good enough?
It's easy to compare yourself to superstars. I went a reading by Kim Fu in Vancouver a couple of years ago, and I was really impressed. Here was a woman in her mid-twenties who'd already made it in the literary world. And although it's not literary success per se that I'm after, I couldn't help but compare myself to her at the time.
A classmate of hers, who's a friend of mine, described her to me as enormously talented. But there was another point he made, too: very people are born with that level of talent. And although Kim surely worked very hard to develop and hone her craft, in the writing world, she was an outlier.
"You don't need incredible talent to become a good writer. Most people get good with an adequate level of talent and years of hard work."
That's one of the things I love about art. When you really understand the value of art, you realize that it's not some zero sum competition where there's one clear victor and many other losers. It's true that some works persist longer than others, and others garner more acclaim, but the world is better off with more good art.
I used to date a high level dancer. By the time I had met her, at age twenty-two, she'd already been dancing for eighteen years. Most of the artists I know have been drawing since they were children. That's what respecting the craft means: playing the long game, shaping the clay of your talent with your ten thousand hours of effort.
I started writing fiction five years ago. I'm still a baby.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis