When my son started running long distance, his coach said something pretty close to the following: “Sprinters are born, but you can be successful in long distance if you put in the miles.” (Now, of course, the elite long distance runners are probably also born, but I’m guessing that even they need to put in some serious miles before they can fully realize that there’s something special going on.) Yesterday, as I watched my son qualify for state in the 1600 meters with a time of 4:27 at the end of his senior year, I couldn’t help but think back to those words from his coach.
Writing can be like that. There are born storytellers out there like Robin McKinley and Megan Whalen Turner, who essentially sold their first books to the first editor who saw them. I’m not saying that they don’t work at their craft. They do! World class sprinters lift weights, run repeats, and spend hours perfecting their starts. But determined people who are willing to put in the miles with their writing can be successful.