Is creative writing a gift or is it learned?
Several people have told me I have a gift for writing. I don’t think so. I learned how to write. And even the gifted have to develop their talents and hone their skills, although they usually learn faster than the rest of us and are more successful than average.
My novel The Valentine Symphony started out as a short story. My first effort was horrible. The characters weren’t real, the story dull, and it didn’t engender the passion I felt.
Because it was essential to me for others to know about the little lady at the symphony, I searched for information about story-writing. I bought books and checked out print and audiobooks from the area libraries, perused the internet, and practiced what I learned. A local authors group provided (and still does) information, encouragement, writing exercises, shared experiences, and friendship.
Years after I wrote that sorry story, I had the confidence to turn it into a novel. I was motivated to learn to write, not gifted. It is my opinion that everyone can learn to write a story well enough for others to enjoy, if the motivation is there.
Most everyone can learn to play the piano well enough to bring pleasure and entertainment to themselves and others, but not everyone is gifted or talented enough to make it to Carnegie Hall. Same thing with writing and other endeavors. If we want to do something strongly enough, you can learn to do it. And if you enjoy writing or playing a musical instrument, or acting in a community theater, then do it. It’s okay.
Does it really matter if you’re not another John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, or Stephen King?
“Actually, you can be bad at something, Lily, but if you love doing it, that will be enough.” --Sue Monk Kidd from her book The Secret Life of Bees
So, please, for your own satisfaction and for your family, write those memoirs, poems, and stories even if you choose not to publish. You and your family will be glad you did.