Seth Godin's blog post today:
People so often tell me, "You're so talented." "You have a gift." "You're lucky to be so good at this." "I wish I could [insert jealous quality] like you can...."
Let me tell you something. I live by this belief:
Anyone can attribute any quality or ability if diligently sought after.
I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. I have spent hours of my childhood drawing images from The National Geographic, puppy books, animal calendars, photos of people, drawing and copying Disney movie covers. I worked hard mastering how to draw Ariel, Simba, Bambi, and the 101 Dalmations. I use to search the house for something interesting to draw, and I remember one drawing I was particularly proud of was a Pepsi bottle, complete with all the right edges and shines on the plastic. I've drawn my hand a hundred times and went through a phase of drawing faces from photos around my house, focusing on lips and then noses. I do not have a "gift." I am not "talented." I have a SKILL, which I have persistently worked hard at for years and years.
You can be good at anything you diligently seek after.
Art isn't my life or the only thing I've worked hard at. My roommates have a running joke that goes "Ginny can do and is good at EVERYTHING." It's not true of course, (don't ask me about politics... it's WAY over my head, and please don't watch me try to ski) but it seems that way to them sometimes. I can sing and harmonize, I'm generally pretty athletic, play the piano, I can make terrific animal noises, I can dance, I can sew, and I usually can solve their technical problems on a computer.
Well, let me tell you something... I've spent hours and hours singing in my car, up and down the scales, trying to build vibrato, and an equal amount of hours on the piano picking out harmonies and learning to hear and sing the tenor or bass part an octave higher, or make up my own part that isn't written. I've taken dance classes and practiced those songs and steps over and over in my bedroom. I probably spent more hours shooting basketball hoops in my driveway and fine-tuning my ability to kick a soccer ball straight up high (so it wouldn't land in the neighbors' yards) growing up than I spent with a pencil and paper. Please don't assume that because someone else can do something well, that they are just "talented." And PLEASE don't assume that you can't do something creative and meaningful, because you didn't get "lucky." You have just as much power to create and do something as fabulous as anyone. I promise.
I've worked hard for what I can do, and I'm not finished with my skills. I want to sing better, speak better, assert myself more, learn new skills, and finish new accomplishments. One day I'll be able to play the guitar, I'll have written and published a middle-grade novel, I'll have spoken publicly about overcoming people pleasing diseases and finding self-empowerment using my children's books as my door opener, I'll have recorded a CD of songs written by me, I'll be able to calmly speak my mind about life and issues without second-guessing or caring what people will think of me, and best of all... I'll start a family. I'll teach my children that they can do anything they diligently seek after, and I will sit back to watch as they create their own magic and watch them influence the world.
So. Let's go make art!