A lot of people like to talk about talent. Somehow you are either born with talent or you are doomed to only ever write meaningless emails and policy documents in a carpet lined cubicle. The “born with talent” hypothesis does tend to necessitate ignoring all the time and effort spent learning to: read, write, conjugate verbs and using a keyboard to hit your agent with. Clearly anyone born with talent doesn’t need anything other than to crawl out of the womb and sit down in front of a computer. Every great novelist started this way, publishing their first book not long after they learnt to walk.
The rest of us have to try hard, we have to work at writing. There are two types of try hards in writing: the try hard and the trying hard. So are you a try hard or do you try hard?
A TRY HARD
It’s fair to say that their are try hards present in every aspect of life. The attention whore, the rude guy, the politician; all trying hard. These are the people that are going through the motions. They are the continuously frustrating people in front of you in the ATM queue that take forever to withdraw $10. They are the person walking aimlessly in the shopping mall who suddenly stop to stare at their feet. Try hards lack purpose and drive, but most of all they seem to be everywhere sabotaging others efforts with their very presence.
In writing we are starting to see more try hards. The “I can’t afford an editor” and the “they wanted me to make changes, screw them” self published authors are great examples. Stephen Leather made the point that it seems odd that there is more talk of marketing than there is of writing in the self publishing world: the try hards at work once again. Their presence sabotages everyone else, except for those already successful, they exist in an altered plain of reality where beer is always cold and spending hours writing gives you sculpted abs, something every successful author needs.
Then there are those who are trying hard to make the most of things. This is what you do in order to achieve things: work. Now you may not have natural talent, ability or wads of cash that you use specifically for lighting cigars, but you are working at it. Hard work and effort directed at your writing craft, study on writing techniques, research on your story, general goofing around on the internet; all aimed at improving your skills. Trying hard isn’t just about the writing though, it is about bringing your voice to an audience. Are you really a writer if no-one has actually read your work? Are you really a writer if you have wads of cash specifically for lighting cigars?
Trying hard is all about putting the effort into the important stuff. Try hards are out to cut corners and impress everyone. The people who are working hard know that there are no short cuts – except that left at Albuquerque. Impressing people comes from a job well done, not by bragging to everyone about it.
Or of course you could just get a room full of typewriters and monkeys.