Talent Without Work

If you haven’t already done so, go now to The Morning News and read novelist Alexander Chee’s personal essay on Annie Dillard and the Writing Life. Then, as an aspiring author, forever remember this one sentence: “Without work, talent is only talent, promise, not product.”

Taken For Granted

There are words that writers are encouraged to avoid, notably time-worn clichés that suggest a lack of verbal originality. ‘Taken for granted’ is a phrase that is terribly overused, but I suspect one of the reasons may be that no other words convey its meaning as aptly. It’s the phrase that leapt into my mind while I was browsing a cousin’s website this afternoon.

Ra McGuire is an extraordinary talent in a family with an abundance of talent. As I listened to a 1983 video clip of his that I’d never heard before it occurred to me that our families are probably taken for granted more than anything else in our lives.

We become accustomed to the presence of each other, and to everyone’s pursuits and accomplishments. In our household there has always been the expectation that we will all do the best we can with whatever abilities God has given us, and while any resulting achievements are acknowledged, it’s without a lot of fanfare.

It is only as I focus on the individuals in the various branches of our family and begin to enumerate their many gifts that I am struck by how remarkable our entire family is. It’s truly humbling — something not to be taken for granted — so I ‘count my many blessings’ and give thanks.