Talent + Passion + Discipline = ?
"I have a love-hate relationship with the writing life. I wouldn’t wish to have any other kind of life…and on the other hand, I wish it were easier. And it never is. The reward comes sentence by sentence. The reward comes in unexpected inspiration. The reward comes from creating a character who lives and breathes and is perfectly real. But such effort it takes to attain the reward! I would never have believed it would take such effort." - Elizabeth George, Journal of a Novel, December 15, 1997
A few years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a workshop taught by Elizabeth George, who is not only a brilliant mystery writer, she’s an amazing teacher. One of the first things she told the class had a profound impact on me, and her words come back to me whenever I get frustrated with writing as a job.
You will be published if you possess three qualities—talent, passion, and discipline.
You will probably be published if you possess two of the three qualities in either combination—either talent or discipline, or passion and discipline.
You will likely be published if you possess neither talent nor passion but still have discipline.
But if all you possess is talent or passion, if all you possess is talent and passion, you will not be published. The likelihood is you will never be published. And if by some miracle you are published, it will probably never happen again.On a good day I like to think I possess all three of the qualities Elizabeth George mentioned, but I know that when it comes to being published there are plenty of variables that are out of my control.
|Wouldn’t it be nice if the path to publication were as straightforward as, say, becoming a certified dental assistant?|
The one thing I can control is whether or not I show up for work. Put my butt in the chair, or rather, my sneakers on the treadmill.
I don’t know what my prospects are in terms of job advancement, but I do know that I’m going to keep showing up for work. Paid or unpaid, published or unpublished, I’m a writer and I love my job.