I’ve grown up learning English as a second language, but in a system where my first language was hardly ever taught. In fact, I’d say I know more about the rules of the English language than the rules of Arabic. It is only natural that the narrator’s voice in my thought is in English. Still, I’m not a native; so how do I know if I have the talent?
The answer can’t be good grades in writing classes. Good spelling and (somewhat) sound grammar were enough for an A. After all, the teachers were not looking for ‘it’. They were not building writers. They were building students who might eventually use English on daily basis at work, or watch an movie without subtitles every once in a while. My writing did not need inspiration since technical correctness was the criteria.
The answer can’t be reviews from my friends. I can jot down 500 words nonsense, and they’ll just admire it because very few people write in my culture. Prolificacy shocks them. Awe strikes them just by the length of my writing. If they struggled with writing assignments, then someone who writes with their own free will must be talented.
Aside from my culture, can the answer be how much I love to write? I love to write therefore I’m talented? I love to sing in the shower, but my voice would destroy lives. Another strike…
I googled my question, but in every forum it ends up in a debate about skill vs talent. I already know my skill is lacking. It’s something I’m willing to work on. But I do believe in talent, or an innate capacity towards growing. Some people are born with higher IQs, some people with characteristics that allow them to be better public speakers. Of course a person can learn to perform better on a test or use better body language in a presentation, but they might still lack ’it’.
So how do I know if I have the writing ‘it’?
I know what broke the writer inside of me; I stopped living in my own world. Just a few months ago, I had a universe standing inside my mind. It’s a God like feeling, but it’s the farthest it can be from narcism; I was never the centre of it nor the puppeteer. I merely could see everything that was happening. On second thoughts, I was a peeping-tom; sneaking looks at my characters even at their most intimate moments. The world was rich, and changing. Everyday I had a new character, in a different setting, who was passionate about a cause which a character was just rallying against the day before. It was the soundtrack of my life. I could spend days alone just listening to it; boredom was a foreign concept to me.
Then, life happened. I’m not going to say it was bad events that distracted me. Some were good like love, some were bad like anxiety. Some writers can use these events to inspire them; but not me. I failed. Perhaps I was never a “writer”, but just an “imaginer”. The soundtrack paused, or rather it was dubbed with the sounds of my own my reality. It wasn’t bad at first. I didn’t even notice few weeks-if not months- that I hadn’t thought of any new stories. I felt guilty, but then I decided to embrace my new life. I was never a fighter; I always swam with the current regardless of my better sense. Nine months later, I had a minute to myself, but I couldn’t stand the silence in my head.
No sound is louder than silence. It’s piercing. I’d become addicted to my busy life, and somehow I forgot to maintain the VCR in my mind. I spent days trying to come up with one creative thought, but I couldn’t. The VCR was rusted, out of date, and I couldn’t afford to upgrade it.
So here I am now, different. I’m not sure which was better. The old me or the new me. I never liked the old one much, and I’m not liking the new one either. I wish I could have the best parts of each, but I’m not sure it goes that way. I hope I can write again. I miss my characters.
I’ve been struggling recently to write, so I’ve come up with this little idea to get things going; I’m going to try and write 200 words per day, and finish a short story with in the next few days. Once I’m settled back into a routine, I can go back and start working again on my longer works.
So, here you go:
Pasty skin, pasty lips, pasty everything. He had been born with a coat of ivory, and had gone through his teenager years being called “vampire”, “albino”, and “Mr. Freeze” by a kid with chipped tooth and a never-fading black eye. As a young man, he had spent two years and a couple of hundred greens on tanning sprays which turned him orange, and tanning sessions that he quit after his first cancer scare. At the age of twenty-two, he settled his vendetta with his skin-tone, and realized that perhaps he would forever remain pasty. The decision came slow, after being called paper-thin by ex no. 1, ex no. 2, and ex no. 4. His color wasn’t a big deal, he reasoned; some countries have populations that are even paler than he was, so just because his fellow country men had a nice glisten to their tone, it didn’t mean that handsomeness was bound to it. He was over it, except for when he pickpocket his sister’s bronzer on a few occasional dates (but he didn’t own, and that was all that mattered!). He never ever brushed it on his face though; only over his abs- or ab.
It was one particular day that he felt oddly confident…
So, I was invited to create a new wacky flavor by a local ice cream parlor-Yes Mama, your daughter is this important now. The flavor was to reflect the essence of my humble personality, and I was sure people were going to gulp it down. Granted, I’m an acquired taste, but I thought if I took a day off from job hunting, and experimented with flavors at home, I could come up with taste-bud heaven. The way I planned it, it would’ve been similar to the persona I put on during an interview; Technically, it wouldn’t have reflected my personality, but it wouldn’t have been a complete lie either. I had to consider the safety of people and the sales of the parlor. No one wants to be the flavor that gets tossed out in buckets at the end of the day!
First, I headed to the supermarket and got a pint of every flavor. I also stacked up on fruits (I’m not a fruity person, but people like it. If I didn’t put fruits in, I would’ve just sounded like the slob), and cookies. My credit card maxed out, so I ended up with vanilla and whatever my roommate had in the fridge. Everyone likes Vanilla, right?
My roommate is a slob though, so no wonder the fridge was empty save for peanut butter and jelly. I was quick on my feet, and I thought could work mixed in with Vanilla? Fine, I might be somewhat deadly allergic to peanut, but I wasn’t going to eat it. It only had to reflect me; and no one knew me there, so I was vanilla and peanut better and jelly, dammit!
Anyway, turns out, I did have to eat it… in front of too many people. I think I have to move.
I wrote this in response to the daily prompt, “Flavor #32“, by The Daily Post.
So, even though I had the momentum going for a couple of months, I haven’t been writing the last two. I keep trying to get back to Teacup Rebel, but it can’t get past typos, grammar, and plot holes even to power through the first draft.
So far, I’m only writing two or three days per week max, and rarely ever hit the 1000 words mark. Very disappointing.
Hopefully, I will be able to show more commitment from now on. I need to get more serious.
Writing doesn’t always come easy; regardless of how talented you are. It might be a strained muscle or voices muffled under the weight of life. Recently I’ve been chasing after the first word; the end of the string. I want to pull at the first word and then tug the whole novel back towards me chapter by chapter. But do you know how hard it is to find the right string once you’ve let it go?
Sometimes we forget we’ve been holding our inspiration for too long, and we let it go. We let it slip from between our tips.
Where did it go? It’s not there any longer.
Suddenly you’re not connected anymore, and all you could think about is:
It’s a key in the sea now. I won’t find it again.
Should you give up. No. So how do you get it back?
Other people are paper thin. They have no depth, no original thoughts, and no spirit. Basically, they are just moving dummies, but you are the only Pinokio; The only one who is more than timber. Yet, you’re stuck dealing with trees for the rest of your life. Isn’t it sad? Isn’t it frustrating to live inside your mind? There is so much you deserve because you are ‘special’.
It is disappointing, like everything human, to be self-centered as a whole and as a specie. We each think we are the sun of our galaxy, and everyone else orbits us; except everyone believes so inwardly. I’m an astrophysicist, but can we all be “the center”? The things is, we live with a sense of grandeur and entitlement, because each of us truly believes that even though we all exist, only he/she is real.
But, we all are just as real.
The homeless man you tossed a coin at this morning, he’s as real as you. Hilter? Real. Miley Cyrus? Yup. The weird kid in class? Just as real.
I’m not saying all minds were created equal; minds, in the sense of intellect, are only a variable in the equation of a human. But I know for sure none of us is the one, but we are all capable of originality and “philosophical” thinking (however you want to define it).
In other words, step outside your mind. And, if you are so dogged on being special, then do something special, instead of just feeling like you deserve the title.