One of the tell-tale signs of someone who has talent is their insistent wondering about whether or not they have talent. They let themselves fall into vicious cycle of self doubt and not surprisingly will fight you quite aggressively when you compliment their work. I have two – three people in mind as I write this and they know exactly who they are. I am going to share with you certain conclusions, I have come to concerning talent.
In our society, where everything is either, pre-made, instant, or ready to use out of the package we have no more a sense of the time it takes for mastery of any subject. My paternal grandfather was for part of his life a tailor. One day you should try to talk to a tailor about cloth ask how long it took them to learn to cut the cloth properly and do all the things we take for granted.
What attracted you to novel writing?
Language. Words. The world is not real for me until it has been pushed through the mesh of language, and this was as true then as it is now. I also had that wonderful conviction that writers have at the beginning that the possibilities are infinite. I didn’t realize just how difficult it was going to be. I thought that within five or six years I would be a fully fledged writer. Here I am now, at the age of sixty-two, still diligently practicing. But I loved, and still love, the craft. I am a graphomaniac. I cannot not write. If I find myself with a spare forty-five minutes at the end of my working day, I will turn to adding a few sentences to something. One of the reasons I love doing journalism—that is, reviews and literary articles—is that I can do it quickly. It gives me a craftsman’s pleasure. Fiction doesn’t do that. Fiction is just a constant torment, and an embarrassment. I loathe my fiction. I have a fantasy when I’m passing a bookstore that I could click my fingers and all my books would go blank, so that I could start again and get them right.
Over three decades worth of practice, and he is still learning. That a powerful fucking statement. To become a master at anything it takes a lifetime. There are no short cuts, no quick fixes. There will be times when you will doubt yourself like with everything there will be times where you are ecstatic because your genius and unique vision of the world shines through whatever you have dedicated yourself to. That’s normal and the way it is. The question is are you ready and willing to put in the time necessary ?
We have issues being selfish. If you read Banville’s remark above, you can see writing is something he loves. Like with anything we love we have to dedicate a significant portion of our time to it. We have to be grounded in the fact that we do it because we fucking love it. if you are drawn to the true sense to writing or sculpting or basket weaving -whatever it is because there is something about the process about the craft you love. There is nothing wrong with being selfish, provide no one is getting hurt, and u are not neglecting your responsibilities. To love something is to sacrifice for it. Are You selfish enough to make that sacrifice. Maybe it means getting 2 hours less of sleep 5 nights a week that’s 14 hours a week 728 a year honing your craft. can you invest your time, in yourself, doing something you love? Many people cannot.
I’m trying to be honest here. I’m not going to pose as a caring novelist. Art is a hard business. It’s a matter of sentiment, but not sentimentality. I do it for myself. The coincidence is that what I do for myself chimes sometimes with the experiences and emotions and desires of other people. This is a kind of miracle, but I don’t intend for it to happen—it just does. Art is like sex: when you’re doing it, nothing else matters. Away from his desk the novelist can care deeply about the social, political, moral aspects of what he is writing but when he sits down to write, all those concerns fall away and nothing matters except the putting down of one carefully chosen word after another carefully chosen word, until a sentence is finished, then a paragraph, then a page, then a chapter, then a book. When I’m working I don’t care about anything, not even myself. All my concentration is directed towards the making of the thing on the page. The rest is just stuff—even though it is the stuff of life.
It’s not a competition against anyone. It can’t be. We are all so different. We each have to do the best we can in what we love to do.
Just my thoughts.