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? 

 

Moving from Fanfiction to writing original stories

I know a lot of writers frown upon fan fiction, but I’ve done it and loved it.

I published my first in 2009, and it sucked. The next few ones sucked even more, with no plots and the punctuation of two year old. Yet, with every review I got, the need to improve filled me, and it pushed me to put more effort into my writing.

About a two years later, I wasn’t a huge success but I had a bunch of people following my stories. I got hooked watching the stats of my chapters move up; views from tens rising to hundreds or thousands with one or two of my most popular stories. I enjoyed opening up my email after posting a new chapter, and having notifications with reviews and comments that I didn’t need to beg for. I don’t write for the stats, but knowing that what I wrote was being read was almost orgasmic (sorry, didn’t mean to sound like a perve).

Fan fiction is easy. The people read your work not because it’s amazing, but because it’s about characters they love. Plus, give anyone two interesting characters, and the scenes basically write themselves. It came to me effortless, especially that I was writing uncomplicated stories that I didn’t need to research. I knew I needed to write something that was 100% mine.

So I moved on to original fiction. When I posted a chapter, and it maybe got one or two comments, and only because I begged for them. I wasn’t getting my fix of views or comments anymore. I wasn’t being read; and it went right through my self-confidence, like a hammer through a vase.

I didn’t write fan fiction for a while afterwards, and somehow it managed to wean me off the gratification of the stats. I put my fingers to the keyboard, and I decided not to care because ‘I was working up to having stories that deserved to be read’. 

Anyway, today I opened up my email to a message from girl with fan art she had drawn based on my fan fiction. She dedicated it to me, and it made me miss my stats and my readers. I wonder if in the future someone will draw fan art based on my original stories…

 Any experiences moving from fan fiction to original one?

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.