Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yes, You Can

It's November 11th, 2008. I've been working on NaNoWriMo for eleven days, and I'm behind. When my mind wanders, I distract myself. So, instead of distracting myself with online games or checking my email incessantly, I decided to distract myself with writing: or at least, purging my mind of the random thoughts that are clogging it and making me unable to get out a clear idea of a story. So this is my random, what-it's-like-to-be-a-writer blog. All of us need one of those, right?

The other night I sat in bed with my wife watching "Ratatouille" while she knit. It was a good movie, and it had a good message for both adults and kids. At the end, they cleverly gave to us - the reader - the moral of the story in the form of a review by the "villain" of the story, the food critic. It's a bit long, but there's one particular passage that caught my attention, and it's something that I've always exclaimed:

"In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: 'Anyone can cook'. But I realize only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."

Having worked in the publishing industry for a while and having been a part of the writers community here in Milwaukee for longer (and even running my own critique group), I've seen a lot of people who believe that they can be writers. It is true - in a way - that everyone has the ability to write; we're all born storytellers. What people don't understand is that not everyone can be an artist: those of us who spend years at our craft can attest to that. Some of us might even one day have to admit to ourselves that we are not as much an artist as we once thought ourselves to be.

I believe, though, that everyone has potential, and we should foster that and help it grow. We can't know that we might be an artist if we're "purified" of such talent throughout school, which tends to happen in the States. If you don't know who Sir Ken Robinson is, please look him up - in regards to his speech at the TED Conferences some years ago.

I believe my true talent lies in the molding of a story not in the writing of it. There are stories that come across my desk which are good: they have all those things necessary to tell the story, but sometimes they lack that small element that allows the reader to truly grasp the story. As an editor, it's my duty to mold that story to be the best that it can be. To me, that is where I am the true artist - at least, I look at myself that way. Perhaps it is pretentious of me to believe that I have such elite talent. Maybe twenty years from now I'll realize I was wrong.

For now, I need to get back to writing. As this is my first post, I hope you enjoy the rest to come.

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