Friday, January 4, 2013

What is Talent?

By Marjorie Hart 

Happy New Year! 2012 was a year to remember, but I'm looking forward to the next best thing in 2013.  For new ideas I turn to my sister, Katherine, who is 91 and author of six books. I find she's already in the middle of projects,  waiting for the reprint of her WWII story about her husband, Bail Our Over the Balkans and finishing two more books. Katherine is never idle.

Neither are writers or readers. When readers tell their remarkable stories, I insist that they write it before it's forgotten. Some have, others will, but too often I hear, "I don't have that kind of talent." 

What is talent? Can it be developed?

Webster's definition doesn't satisfy, though several bestsellers have been intriguing. My mother's favorite quote was:Talent is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. In a recent splurge of emails, Katherine and I reminisced on the subject going back to the Thirties. This was one of them.

Winter came one early morning in Iowa--so cold our bedroom wallpaper was covered in a layer of frost. I couldn't bear to dip my toe from the covers. At the last moment, I dashed downstairs to the kitchen which was heated by an enormous black coal stove. Katherine, standing by the oven door, was practicing Kreutzer violin exercises, the music rack too hot to touch. By the time I warmed my hands with a cup of cocoa she had finished an hour of practice "because my teacher said so."

In our small town, music contests became the most captivating event of the year. A win at the district meant advancing to the state contest at the University of Iowa, and then to the national in Cleveland. Our Story City High School superintendent was so enthusiastic, he excused Katherine from study hall to "go home and practice." As a sophomore, she became a contestant at the state level and I was thrilled to be in the crowded auditorium. Excited for her, though anxious, I noted the heavy competition of contestants from much larger cities and the intimidating sight of judges so close to the stage. Katherine, the last one to compete--our mother was the  accompanist--entered the stage confidently to perform the dazzling Bruch violin concerto. Every so often--though not often enough--there are unforgetable moments when I can still feel goosebumps at the memory. .   

"Oh my," a lady said when she finished, "how lucky to have that God given talent!"

Katherine's response: "Marjorie — I didn't have much talent — mostly practice and a good teacher."



adventures said...

Marjorie, this is a great reminder to keep plugging away at our stories!

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