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Know Jack #340 Perpetuating the Myth

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

Ernest Hemingway

I am a Christian. I don’t usually mix that into this blog on my writing life. It’s not that I am ashamed of it in any way. As Popeye would say, “I am what I am, and that’s all what I am.” However, this quote by Hemingway lends itself so well to my experience as a Christian and a writer that I had to pursue it.

I was born into Christianity, but I have spent every day since learning to become a Christian. Someday, I might just make it. I make no secret of the fact that I do not practice what I preach. I preach Jesus Christ, the perfect God-Man. My practice of imitating Him is far from perfect. Yet my imperfections do not hinder me from waking each day thinking that this will be the day I move one step closer to that goal.

What does that have to do with writing? Just this, I believe writers are born not made. God gives to some people a natural talent for putting words together to tell a story and without that gift, they soon turn to other pursuits. In that sense, I was born to write.

Writing, like Christianity, is both a gift and a discipline. The gift becomes only what the recipient makes of it. No one who is serious about writing is exempt from putting forth the effort involved in learning to write well.

I have met people who think their latent talent is good enough. Those people’s visions of their future success as a writer are more delusions of grandeur than anything else.

I still have a long way to go to write well, and not nearly enough years left to get there, but I am persistent. That’s a nice way of saying that I’m stubborn as a mule. Fortunately, persistence may be the most important lesson a writer needs to learn.

In the words of a man famous for speaking few words, Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.”

It’s okay to let the world think it all comes so easy. Let them dream of the glamour and fall for the mystique of writing a novel—creating fantasy worlds is what you do. Smile and let them think you were born with it.


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