It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.
It’s a good thing that Robert didn’t find out earlier. What a different world it might have been. Robert Benchley sold his first piece of paid writing in 1914 and his work continues to sell, inspire and entertain to this day.
His son Nathanial Benchley became a well known author of children and teen books and wrote the book The Off-islanders in 1962, which became the motion picture titled “The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming. He received an Academy award nomination for writing the Adapted Screenplay. His novel, Welcome to Xanadu became the 1975 movie Sweet Hostage.
Perhaps younger fans will be most familiar with his grandson, Peter Benchley, author of the famed novel Jaws.
Three generations of authors influencing our history. What would have happened if he had *realized* he had no talent? Would he have inspired his son or his grandson to become writers? How would their lives have been different? How would yours? Where were you the first time you saw that famous shark rise out of the ocean?
Writer’s words change lives. They change other peoples thoughts, they propel people to action. They make us laugh. They make us cry. Sometimes they make us angry.
Or fall in love.
But I’m not a writer-so you say. Maybe you think you have no talent. Maybe you think the words you have bubbling up inside you are words that no one needs to hear? Maybe you never pick up a pen. Maybe you write with spoken words, or paint or dance or modeling clay. But you do have something to say. And if you are holding it in, is it building up inside of you? Maybe you have never paid attention to it before. Listen. You can feel it. It’s that yearning. It’s that pressure that pushes out from inside of you. It wants to go somewhere. It wants to be heard. It needs to be heard.
We all have a voice and we all have something to say. We all have questions as to the what and the why’s of this world and no-we might not have all the answers, but its ok to write while we are journeying on, working them out together, forming new ideas, hearing new solutions. Sharing our experiences with each other.
Somebody is listening somewhere. Somebody needs to hear what you have already figured out. Somebody needs a hand up, a little help along the way. Or they need to know that you are struggling too, that they are not alone. They need to know that they are not a lone tree falling in the forest. That you are there and will catch them when they fall, that your words will hold them up-because you have been there first. Maybe all you have to say today is great job or I love you, but these can be powerful words too. Don’t underestimate what you have to say. Someone needs to hear it.
But I’m not good enough.-Yes you are. Write from your heart. Write from your soul. Speak the words. Let it out and have faith that somebody is listening. If you are true to what you are feeling, I promise, someone else is feeling it too. None of us are ever truly alone.
But I’m not creative enough- I believe that true creativity comes from letting go. Not pushing it. Not trying too hard to cram all the pieces together. Get empty and see what comes to fill in the space. Say what if…and let the pieces fall into all new places. Don’t hold on to anything, just follow the wave and it will take you places you would never have dreamed of.
But I don’t have time– I don’t think we have time NOT to. Taking the time to formulate our thoughts and feelings, perhaps putting them down on paper or whatever medium we choose is a valuable use of time that grounds us. It highlights our center, our values, our key trouble spots and the secrets that lie within. Whether we are writing for others, or ourselves, these words need an outlet. It isn’t a healthy thing to ignore them while they clamor away for attention like a nagging child inside of us. Ignored for too long, they become sullen, depressed, hidden in the corner, while we become more and more detached from the authentic self that is our true spirit. Get out your pen! Go find yourself! Go listen to what you have to say!
I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.
I have my grandmother’s stories and poetry. Long gone now, she wrote not for fame or fortune but to be connected to her spirit. She wrote her poems to God. She poured out her questions, cried out her heartache, searched for the answers to the mysteries that defied her.
She was an artistic, creative soul. Lost sometimes in the depth of Bi-polar confusion, she struggled to make sense of the ever-changing world in her mind. Through her stories, through her poetry, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren will always have a glimpse into the brilliance that resided there. She was beautiful. Her writing is her legacy. Did she know we would be listening? One of her poems, written on a Christmas morning was titled “To my Grandchildren.”
Have faith. Write. Write from your heart. Somebody is listening.
Brett Legree says
You keep doing this! Keep writing like this, please 🙂 if ever I have any doubts, I will come here and read your words.
We all have a voice, and someone, somewhere, wants to hear it. So write, it can be our legacy.
I promise to keep writing. I couldn’t stop really, even if I wanted to. The words would start crying and drive me crazy.
You keep writing too Brett. People will follow your words.
I am starting to believe you just may be the Pied Piper.
That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you Wendi. People seem to keep saying exactly what I need to hear these days, but no one has said them even near as eloquently as you have right here.
Like Brett (how does he always get the very first comment on any blog??) I am going to save this page and come back to it for inspiration often.
thank you. See it helps to know that what I write is what people need to hear.
I really do believe that. Hearing that it is true for you is very affirming.
I don’t know how Brett does that. Maybe he is a subscriber? ( shrugs) Or maybe he sleeps with his eyes open.
But if you all subscribe, then you can race him….
Brett Legree says
I know you will keep going. I believe it. And don’t worry, I won’t stop either. I had missed it for years, and now it fills that part of me that was empty.
I *love* what you said – thank you! I think I will get myself a flute and a pointed hat, I can skip down the road in my funny shoes, playing a tune…
@Nicole (and Wendi),
I would say it is a clone, but Harry hasn’t finished growing it yet for me, so I just don’t sleep, and whenever I see a new post from the people who really inspire me, I jump right on them… if I ever get an iPhone, I’ll be commenting *before* you post
Tell me about it. The bubbling grew so irritating inside me, I had to quit my job. The guilt of characters and civilisations dying all day inside my head was too much to bear.
Creativity is yours if you acknowledge it. If you deny its calling, it will leave a stench that won’t leave you. “I could have been this-and-that”
Thank you for your comment, I totally get it.
I hope you will come often and comment!
Bob Younce at the Writing Journey says
Good form, Wendi. That connected with me, big time, especially the part about your grandmother. I’ve got both Bipolar and Schizophrenia in my family tree, and I’ve seen firsthand how writing is very often an aid in the struggle for reality.
Bob thank you very much.
The saying “writing keeps me sane” is very well understood in our family too.
And thank you so much for your referal on your site today, at The Writing Journey.
That means a lot.
Thatta girl. Keep on keeping on. Also, Robert Benchley used to hang with Dorothy Parker, and they knew what was up. My favorite Benchley-Parker quote? They shared an office that was so small, they said, that “one square inch less and it would have constituted adultery.”
We always have time. As long as YouTube exists and we spent fifteen minutes watching it, we have time. I suspect authors got started younger than we do today simply because they didn’t have as many distractions.
Daz Cox says
🙂 yup yup!
Melissa Donovan says
I think a lot of writers feel like this. They look back at some of their work and think, hmm, this isn’t very good. Faith is definitely the key to sticking with it. Oh, and a little passion doesn’t hurt either 😉
@Wendi Definitely sub’d. 🙂
@Brett You with an iphone is downright frightneing. Unstoppable comes to mind.
Melissa, Yup, yup ( as Daz would say) to the passion part. It keeps you writing when faith is faltering and disipline has flown out the window.
That would be an entire post in itself I think!
I did not know that quote! It’s good one!
I agree with you about the distractions. I have way too many.
Jeanne Dininni says
Love this, Wendi! What an inspiration!