What is the Measure––Part I

fountain pen

If you’ve been reading, you know that I’ve been struggling with my writing. This has been going on a long time, but has been coming to a head after a prolonged season of disappointments and rejections. It has caused me to question certain things. #whatsyourmeasure #takingstock

Sometimes, you have to take stock of yourself and change directions if what you’re doing isn’t working for you. Click to Tweet I haven’t come to that point yet, because it’s hard to do. I know, because I’ve had to do it before––many times. I’ve been out of college 40 years, and I’ve changed career paths probably 10 times in those years. Maybe more, I don’t really know.

from Flickr

from Flickr

In the Bible, there is a parable of Jesus––the Parable of the Talents. I want to look at it in a different way, and I’m not saying this is Biblically correct. In the story, a landowner is getting ready to take a long trip. He has three servants. Based on their ability, he gives five “talents” to one, three to another, and one to yet another. And he leaves. When he comes back, he calls them account. The guy with five got five more. The guy with three got three more. The guy with one buried it, and was punished.

I italicized based on their ability, because that is the measure. Yes, we’re to develop what we have and try to get it to multiply. Let me give you an example from a past life of mine. I play four instruments, but my musical gifting only goes so far. About 20 years ago, I was asked by my worship leader to play a series of ditties in a popular worship song at the time, “Ancient of Days.” A professional flutist played some pretty amazing ditties. Wow! There was no way I could play exactly like him––so I tried to do what I could do. It turned out OK, but my point is, he had a much greater measure of talent and gifting than I do.

I bet you didn’t know that Audrey Hepburn, the actress, grew up wanting to be a prima ballerina. She went to the finest of ballet schools, but was told she didn’t have the talent to become a prima ballerina. She had a measure, but it wasn’t enough. By dropping her dream to be a prima ballerina, she became an Oscar-winning actress for “Roman Holiday” and was nominated several more times.

Stephen King says, “…while it is possible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one.” King has a pyramid of four levels of writers––4) bad, 3) competent, 2) good, 1) genius. He’s talking measure here.

I have a “publish-ready” novella. First, six people critiqued and edited it. Second, six more judges judged it. So, after 12 people, it still wasn’t “good enough” to make the finals of another contest, but did place third in a small contest. But of course, it didn’t win. Come on now. It’s the measure. My scores tell me I’m a bit above average. I can semi-finals, one of 10 or one of 7, but never the finals in some of these contests. #whatsyourmeasure #takingstock

This is the beginning of a new year––a perfect time to take stock and examine ourselves to see what’s working and what’s not. Click to Tweet

What’s your measure? Leave a comment and let me know.

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One thought on “What is the Measure––Part I

  1. I’m struggling with the same thing. Above average. Good. But not where I need to be. As I’ve said here before, I’m writing for my own reasons. As far as contests, I’ve been anywhere from First (for my very first and worst novel), to not even mentioned (for what I thought was my best work). What is the judge looking for? What was his/her preference of the moment? What was his/her mood like the day they read the work? In other words, contests are just another inaccurate measure. Nonetheless, a writer writes.

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