What It’s Like to be a Naturally Gifted Writer
A lot of people ask me what it’s like to be a naturally gifted writer. They want to know about my God-given ability to wake up every day and write exactly what I mean to say. They want to understand why writing is so easy for me and not them.
Well, it’s not natural at all. The truth is, I was given a gift –a wish that was granted to me on my 6th birthday after I inadvertently released a genie from a mirror in my grandmother’s attic. Believe me, I am aware of my unbelievable luck. So many of my writer friends have made similar wishes and they have not come true. They actually have to work hard at writing. It’s really upsetting.
From what I can tell, their existence is truly miserable. Trying to pursue a hobby that statistically will never amount to any kind of fortune or fame must really wear you down. I don’t know, I’m just guessing. When I think about them sitting alone at their desk for hours, the words eking out painfully over the course of months, sometimes years, I can’t bear it.
People are fascinated by my writing process — but of course as a gifted writer, it’s not really a process at all. Literally all I have to do is look in the direction of my beautiful, minimalist, cabin upstate, and the series of best-selling novels writes itself. And when your characters and dialogue are pulled from your real-life experiences, which are always linear and profound, there’s absolutely no editing needed. And then there’s the incredibly vivid dreams I have, the ones I remember with 100% clarity the next morning and which become the basis for my highly original and profitable TV scripts.
Honestly, stumbling into a Starbucks, writing a complete, coherent story on a single napkin, mailing that napkin to my editor and getting it published verbatim, no questions asked, is more like divine intervention than anything else.
People don’t understand how I can do this over and over again and get paid $3.5 million each time, but actually it’s pretty simple. Writing is a magical fever dream caused by a chance encounter with an ancient benevolent ghost genie. I really don’t know how else to explain it.
But hey, just because I was chosen as a vessel for greatness, doesn’t mean writing is a total walk in the park. I ensure my good fortune by taking a bunch of amphetamines and drinking liters of whiskey until I can see god. If it worked for a handful of dead white guys, who am I to redefine what makes a talented artist? Being an addict doesn’t make you a better writer but it does add legitimacy to your art. This is perhaps the only thing my non-gifted writer friends can do to improve their circumstances. But they’d have to get pretty fucked up.
For all the immediate gratification and constant praise I receive from being a writer, life can also be very lonely. I sense that my writer friends resent my gift. I watch them get so derailed by social media, so insecure by the volume of successes I’m constantly sharing to their feed.
Personally, I would love to tell them that one day it will be their turn, but I don’t, because it won’t, statistically. Sure, every kid plays in their Grandparent’s attic, but only a fraction of those kids uncovers a magical mirror that frees an 800-year-old genie that gives them the ability to write. And unfortunately, this is the only proven way to become a gifted writer.
Ali Kelley is still waiting to meet her genie. Read more on aliskelley.com.