Sunday, February 14, 2016

Forged. Ingrained. Loved.

Now Playing: Taylor Swift - Style

Happy Valentine's Day :D

I had this post ready to publish a few weeks ago, but like with the New Years' post, I realized I kind of had a holiday that was somewhat related. Somewhat. Only tangentially.

Mostly, it's a short ramble today.

Long ago, I asked a few artist friends once--during the Scholars' study hall, where we did everything but study--if they attributed their artistic accomplishments to aptitude or slowly constructed skill. Was their talent something they were born with, or something they constructed throughout years and years?

Like in most cases, I assumed they'd give me a middle answer. Maybe they were born with just enough talent that once realized and built on, it turned magnificent.

But their answer was pretty unanimous: built not inherent, nurtured not nature-sprung. We all start with stick figures. They kept drawing them and drawing them and drawing them until the stick-limbs fattened up, got joints, had crinkles, gained shaded dimensions, etc.

So I figured that made sense. No one--or at least, not 99% of the population, excluding those true prodigies--is born with ingrained talent. We have to forge our skill through persistence.

But maybe we all are born with something; not the skill, but the love/drive to build it. Some brains are wired to release all the happy chemicals in response to painting a picture. Other brains launch said happy chemicals when solving a math problem. (Some for both. And that's always nice).

I don't believe in fate, exactly. I can't stand hearing "everything happens for a reason." But of course there's cause and effect in our lives. I don't believe it was ever my ""fate"" to write half a dozen books, but clearly I was lucky enough to discover my brain was wired to make me happy when I told stories and worked with the written language.

In many ways, and especially during bad days, I wish it were otherwise. I wish I'd been born with a love for something more "practical." Something that could sustain me and keep me afloat without constant probability trying to push me down a ditch.

Life would not have been easier if I'd been born with an obsessive love for, I don't know, something in the wonderful world of business or STEM.

Important to note, I'm not so willfully stupid to think merely liking something replaces the need for hard work and persistence and even luck. (Luck being that thing that mostly happens through coincidence and perseverance). Nor do I think the job market is any good anywhere. My STEM friends aren't living the dream--we're all struggling. We're all fucked.

But I can't help but feel it might have yielded better results so long as I worked hard. I can't say the same for writing.

The reason I wrote this post is because I've started to wonder, just, why I went into writing. Why am I still writing? If it's difficult, why am I doing this? The answer used to be: "because I love it." Now it's slightly extended, in the range of, "I don't know. I didn't ask to like writing, I just always have."

It's probably a product of being a melodramatic somewhat-adult-kid who's rewriting about 100k words of a manuscript that might never go anywhere and will never bring me money if it even makes it out of this computer. But it's very, very strange to both appreciate and resent your passions.

Although I do wonder something else. If my passions were different, I wouldn't be me, would I? Down to the wiring of my brain, if I loved something else, I'd be someone else.

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.