Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Anyone Can Cook, Er, Write . . . if they want to . . .

It is a small group at Writopia today, even though classes have ended in preparation for the summer program, three of my Saturday girls wanted to come for another session. I've been with them every Saturday afternoon this school year. I've brought brownies, and they all want to play "hot laptop", insisting that I play with them. Yay! (This is just like the game hot notebook I play with my Girls Write Now mentee Meg, only with more people and on (obviously) laptops.) We will have four stories by three o'clock.

As a creative writing teacher, I passionately believe that everyone is capable of deep creative expression. Whether you have a desire or "calling" to do it, is a completely different thing.

Kristi commented and posed a provocative question on a quote I put on yesterday's blog:

"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work."
- Emile Zola (1840-1902)

How would you define the artist's gift? Is it the urge to create or is it talent? Do you think that artists (including writers) are born with a gift? Or can we create it and/or cultivate it through all that work?

The movie Ratatouille comes to mind, with the overt message: Anyone can cook. But the more interesting message for me is that anyone can do anything with an attitude of perseverance, practice, and desire.

Is talent what you are good at, or what your soul feels called to? Are these mutually exclusive? My soul feels "called" to writing fiction - I recognize that "calling" as a gift, but not necessarily a talent. So in order to serve that gift, I need to practice writing. When my fingers flow easily and quickly over the laptop, it is the gift of inspiration. Most of the time though, I have to sit down, roll up my sleeves, and "work".

So it's not the gift versus the work, is it? What do you think? There are genius writers out there - I however, am not one of them. For me, it's that old adage of 5% inspiration, 95% perspiration - that's what I have to focus on.


  1. Thank you for answering my questions, especially in such a deep, thought provoking post.

    I wanted to cheer when I read your response. It was kinda like watching the World Cup today. Odd comparison, I know, but the feeling of supporting and cheering people on as they work hard to serve their calling/heart's desire is much the same.

    I agree that the calling is a gift and we must serve the work so that it might bless others. Thank you again.

  2. Gift or work? Maybe both, each in its time. Sometimes in the flow, when words come easily, other times doing the discipline of being present even when the words seem out of reach. And perhaps those times when there might be a rat sitting on your head, pulling your hair this way and that so that your fingers strike the right keys. Those days, you just have to laugh at yourself.

    But every day, you're still there.

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