Saturday, August 21, 2004

Writing exercise #1.

(Unofficially, in the #hundreds, but now I'm counting)

Of Time, Talent, and Judgement

(or “Haughty and Arrogant Letter to an Anonymous Friend”)

I doubt it's possible, but for the sake of your ego, try not to intoxicate yourself with your own talent. A WUI in writing just doesn't look good on your permanent record. While incredibly powerful, neither natural aptitude nor a trained hand are complete measurements of skill.

Were an average writer (if such a one exists) to take a beautiful, witty, and grammatically perfect piece of literature you wrote on the fly in five minutes, and accept a challenge to devote 24 hours in creating one rivaling or surpassing your minute-masterpiece (in some non-existent form of perfect critique), don't you think they could do it? Yes, it's debatable, but if you were both defender and challenger, wouldn't you think yourself capable of vastly improving your own five minute piece in that same 24-hour period?

Is time, then, a more accurate judge? Could a better indicator of excellence prove worthwhile in this form? Certainly not always. The differences vary far too outrageously from case to case. Thus we assume the existence of a higher dependency, an even more important measure of performance ...

Perhaps the ability to critique and measure? I wouldn't even deem it necessary to write this if I thought you (the anonymous friend referenced above, not the reader) had better assessments of skill. While insightful, don't the above arguments regarding time imply (falsely) that any writer can differentiate between what is good or bad, between what is detailed, debatable, or opinion?

Obviously, if we all had such a well developed sense, then time would always be a perfect measure of quality, and never talent. But is this ability enough? Many people know the difference between good and bad, but do not write, and if they do, a large number find it difficult to maintain such impartiality in personal projects. One must also be capable of applying this critique to their own work just as well as they can to the works of other skilled individuals; a task that seems plain in writing, yet deviously harder in practice.

The truth remains that in order to produce something identifiable as quality, you must know what you're doing and put time in it to sufficiently explore the paths you could take it. Talent doesn't replace that; it simply aids and hastens the process. Thus refined, my statement becomes the following: once able to separate the good from the bad, a person may create a masterpiece in any agility-independent field, gifted or not.

PS – Allow me to remind you that all analogies and generalizations break down at some point, so we already know that point exists here: if you'd like to find it yourself, be my guest, but I wouldn't waste such wonderful talent as yours on simple crap.

This essay is subject to change since it's not done till it's done ;-D

PPS - And that, my dear readers, is why the styles of any two of my posts may be completely different. (I'm horrified by the style of my previous post.)

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