Some writers are very lucky. Their path to fame came easily. Others have to struggle for it. Some, though talented, never get there. But there is one other group, of people who aren’t very good at writing, and probably won’t ever become great writers, but nobody ever talks about that. It’s like a dirty secret, though one that colors the conversation, the speeches, advice articles, and editorial letters of everyone who deals with writing, everywhere. As a former teacher and a developmental editor, it’s my job to push authors to their next level, even if that next level is still nowhere near where they need to be. It doesn’t matter. Improvement is improvement, and everyone is struggling with something, even the lucky ones, maybe especially them because of other people’s expectations.
The point is, we’re not Truman Capote, who famously said, “I’ve known all my life that I could take a bunch of words and throw them up in the air and they would come down just right.” That kind of confidence in your own talent must be awesome. I have no idea. If I throw words up in the air, I’d better run for shelter because they’re likely to injure me before clattering in a mess on the floor. Some may even throw the words up and lose them to the ether. It’s all damning. But whatever our level of talent or luck, what I love about writing is that when we sit at the desk, and throw those words up into the air, they have the potential for landing beautifully, no matter who we are.