How to know if you have writing talent when writing in a foreign language?

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’?

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The rat race

This is it; the most important moment of your life: 

You’re ahead of the rat race. One inch away from the finish line. Your chest aches and your breath is shallow and stabbing. The other rats behind envy you, you could feel it through your back; the waves of their jealousy pushing you forward. The eyes of loved ones too belong also in the background, watching as your gaze solely rests on the ribbon. 

The fiber is torn by your momentum, and your hands are in the air. You double over, and breathe as deep as you could making up for lost air. When you straighten up, you look back, and the audience is gone. There is an instant of confusion, wondering why the colors are dim and the cheering is silenced.

Your in a zone of white, grey, or whatever color lays in the back of your mind in your sleep; The inside of your lids. The questions are overwhelming, but there is a clarity in their hustle. Was it even a race? 

 

Raise or fold?

Isn’t “now” terrifying? Standing here in the midst of life, and thinking “that’s it?”.

This is the best moment of your life, and it’s mediocre at best. The thing is: you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing. The timesheet is punched in, and you’re hunched down over a document. On the 30th, dollars are transferred in your account. Hunger never grazed you, but are you happy? If five years from tomorrow was a copy of today, would you still put in the effort to breathe?

You pay a high price for security. You fantasize about it too, don’t you? Throwing it all away.

The heck with safe.

How about you chase your dreams with a craved in stomach? How about you never sleep warm again? Without a security blanket, you’d have  to succeed because your life depends on it, you think.

But there in the dark, even deeper inside of you than the self destructive fantasy, a voice of reason speaks to you; you’re not one in a million, you’re one of a million. Isn’t it terrifying? Now is not good enough, but it’s all you could ever risk to be.

Which would it be: Raise or fold?

Finding inspiration to write through demanding times

We’ve all been through it. Bad days, bad weeks, bad years. Those times when it’s hard to get out of bed, and when even breathing feels like a chore. It’s not one day at a time; it’s one breath at a time. It’s scouring in yourself just to keep your lungs from giving out.

So you come back home, and you’ve already waited two hours in traffic, fought with a friend, and had an incident with your boss. Now, you have to sit and write. Writing is a release for you, but so much is going on with your life, you can’t handle your characters’ problems as well. That’s the thing about writing; you have to be willing to put yourself in you character’s shoes, and exposing parts of yourself that might be draining.

What now? You’re in front of the keyboard and your mind is blank. You are anxious; and the fact that your can’t conjure the writer inside of you is rubbing salt on your wounds.

Now, I don’t have a solution. Some times it takes over me as well, but here is what I do, and sometimes it works. Try it and let me know if it works for you to;

1-    Put all anger into one thing that you can control (and that one ‘thing’ can’t be a human). For instance, fix something or toss out all the old food in your fridge Seek release.

2-    Set up worry times- with caution. You can’t go around feeling bad for yourself all day long. Set up one hour a day where you can hate your life as much as you want, complain about it to yourself and mope. When the timer is done, get up and refuse to think about it again for the rest of the day. Tell yourself, ‘I fed the beast for today, but I will not let it eat me whole’. (FYI, this might backfire.)

3-    Choose to be unrealistic. How happy were you as a five year old who thought he could be a president? Believe that your book is going to rival Harry Potter. The only cost we pay for hope is disappointment. The cost for not having hopes and dreams thought is losing your flavor and your soul. I don’t know which is worse, but personally, I’d take disappointment anyway.

4-    Cheer up your friend. We are great at telling others why they should be happy, but we suck when it comes to telling ourselves. So once you are done, write down all the cases you made her/him, and read them out loud. Or you could just write a blog post like this one!

5-    Indulge: Read a book from cover to cover, go to a spa, watch a horrible movie and make fun of it. I think you deserve that thing you wanted to buy for two years but thought it was over priced! Sadly, don’t go over board- you won’t be happy eating ramen noodles for three months because you spent your food money.

Lastly, life just sucks. But ride out the bad times. Don’t let the tide drown you. Your arms will get stronger and the waves won’t be able to pull you down. You have it in you to be something extraordinary.

Deciding which story to write

 

Over the past few days, I’ve been visiting the novel graveyard (Aka my documents) trying to decide if any of the stories I started and buried had any potential.

They were all first or second chapters, so it was hard to tell where any of them was going, so I decided to go with my heart and choose to continue “Teacup Rebel”. I had started writing “Teacup Rebel” a few years back (3 years I think). I sent the first chapter to one of my closest friends, and asked her for her opinion. She replied with the below (keep in mind that she is not a native English speaker):

This is DEFINITELY WORTH CONTINUING!!

You have an amazing imagination you remind me of Harry Potter.

I cant wait till i know whats in your head.

It is such a sad story be aware it might turn into a scary/sad story you do not want this to happen or you will just sound crazy and a perv.

You have to explain character more, what is the Myth, how do they look like, why people think of them as completely ordinary and are not mortified by how they look (The first thought that came to my mind) you want to show how chibis are ordinary but you need to mention their origins, their look, what they are capable of and what they are not,and most importantly how small are they??

On a seperate note, you choose the same words so many time (sadist) maybe also a bit predictable sometimes, like leaving things might get them stolen, or she will convince her friend and she odes convince her im not telling you to be talkative but still less predictable more imagination when it even comes to regular conversation as not to be boring.

The idea is excellent, beyond the word excellent but is your goal is it to show how small people can change the word, or how small insignificant people are mistreated but they can still rise above? we need to reach a goal in the end,

Finally, you are my PRIDE AND JOY.

Thanks a lot babe,

and plz keep sharing and if u dndt like my review i will not tell you my opinion just share bas 😀

I didn’t continue the story then. She used to ask me a lot about it,  tell me how much she believed in me, and how shameful it would be if I wasted my “talent”. I brushed her words it off. I thought because she was my friend, it was an unspoken rule she’d encourage me even if I sucked. She died about a year later in a car accident, and I started to realize how she was one of the rare people who ever believed in me. So, I think I should continue “Teacup rebel”  and dedicated to her memory (even though she did not like that title).

Sorry for being a cliché and over-sentimental. I know that being a cliché is close to an abomination in writing.

Anyway, the story is set in a world where countries have been disbanded. It is a world without belonging, without religion, and without culture. The council rules, and the council members are the ultimate ambassadors of democracy and peace, except for Chibis. Those Chibis look like humans and speak likes ones, but they could fit in the palm of your hand, like moving Barbies. That’s what they are: things, entertainment, and the all around pets. They have no rights or will of their own. Tatsuo, the hero is the story, has lived all his life in a cage, and he is sick of it.  On the other hand, Nouri, the heroine and a blogger with 5 million subscribers under her belt, wishes for her own cage. Cages keep you safe, and she likes ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’. The story unfolds after she buys Tatsuo and dresses him in purple pants and a fish net.

Obviously, it’s a fantasy, which is not my forte, but if I’m getting my knees wet, I’m might as well take a dip. So far, I have 3 chapters done, and I’ve started the 4th today.

 

The image is from http://cherishedtrinkets.co.uk