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Monday, January 3, 2022

Literary Talent

     You've got to start with a certain amount of talent, the sine qua non. Very occasionally, a literary gift shows up that is vast, awe-inspiring, as it was in Tolstoy, Proust, or Dickens, compared to whom even big talents seem small. Yet many fine, even famous, careers have been built on making the most of relatively ordinary gifts. Be it modest or magnificent, you got to have some talent. It may be latent; it may be undeveloped; it may be neglected. But it must be there.

     What is literary talent? A nimble fluency. A way with words. An imagination that's easily aroused, quick to see, to hear, and to feel. An ear for the music of the language and a tendency to become absorbed in the mysterious movements of its significance and sound. A sense of audience. Skill at organizing verbal concepts solidly, effectively, and  fairly swiftly. An aptitude for catching the elusive forms and figures of a vivid imagination and a knack for pinning them down on the page.

Stephen Koch, Writers Workshop, 2003 

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