Tag Archives: talent

Talent, Resilence & Patience

There are three things you need for success in life, whether you are talking about writing (as I do) or anything else.

(By the way, I’m about to invent a new form of poem, so stay alert till the end.)

Despite the title, talent isn’t one of them. Research has shown that if you divide a group of children into two lots and praise one for their talent and the other for their hard work the results of one group will gradually decline and the other will increase.

The problem with praising someone for their talent is that they begin to believe that their talent will run out, where the other group starts to believe that the harder they work, the better they will become. This seems to be borne out by the actual results.

It is all laid out in a book called Bounce by Matthew Syed. Reading the review, as I did whilst looking for a link, it looks like there’s a lot more in there too – I really should read it again.

Talent can, to be honest, be replaced by practice and work rate. As long as you have a basic grasp of what makes a good bit of work in your field, you can work on improving the quality of your work. If you write a lot and submit enough pieces of work, success will follow. Once you have some success, more will follow. It’s like Roger Bannister and the four minute mile – once he broke the four minute barrier others followed. Barriers are mainly psychological, and once broken can be broken again and again.

Resilience, I have covered several times. Rejection is merely  the opinion of an editor at a certain point in time, and does not constitute a damning judgement on you or your work. If several editors share the same view it still isn’t that bad, just take it as a hint that you need to alter a few things.

As an aside – write haibun. I have always felt fortunate that a number of editors have taken the time to give me pointers about my haibun, which isn’t something that happens in a lot of fields. It seems to be a field where we are blessed with a group of fine editors. When I was a more traditional poet I rarely met with helpful comments – it was a case of yes or no, mostly no, and no clue as to what needed altering.

Stone on the Floor

I thought I’d put the poetic rocks half way down as it isn’t really a poetry post.

Finally, patience. No editor of a small poetry publication is in it hoping for fame and fortune. They are often overworked, under appreciated and blamed for the varied failings of authors. Some people even write sarcastic haibun about them. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

If you are a guest editor, as many are, the under-appreciation must be even greater.

However, it doesn’t stop me getting twitchy when they take a long time over their answer. I’m waiting for an answer from a magazine that says it may take 6-8 weeks to answer during busy periods. IT’s had the submission for 54 days now, which is just two days short of eight weeks, and I’m becoming twitchy. Another, with a target of two weeks, has had my submission for sixteen days. Two weeks is an excellent response time, so I’m not complaining, but I’d love an answer.

You just have to sit back and wait. It’s difficult not to be impatient, but just think, if it was you, would you appreciate impatience. I think not.I keep telling myself we are lucky to have people to do these jobs for us. If you left me in charge of a magazine it would soon degenerate into confusion and Limericks.

There was an old poet called Quercus,
whose efforts, often, would irk us.
He loved to declaim,
and would often exclaim
that he’d much rather work in a circus.

And that is my new form of poetry. You have prose and haiku, which are haibun, and prose and tanka, which are called tanka prose. Well this – prose followed by a Limerick, is a Limmerbun.  I add the double m to make sure it is pronounced correctly. Unlike the other two, a Limmerbun can be utter nonsense.

My Orange Parker Pen

I’m still hoping for some freebies from Parker. They are obviously not reading this blog.

Edited next day to tidy up a typo, remove a repetition and tinker with the Limerick.

Tea, Tact and Talent

We sat under the awning to eat lunch and drink freshly brewed mint tea and the first thing I saw was a large reddish brown dragonfly. It was about twelve feet up in the air and flying strongly so after consulting the internet I’m thinking it may have been a brown hawker. They are widespread and common, so it seems like a good ID. I’m always suspicious when people like me (with little knowledge and an internet connection) claim to have seen a rarity. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera but if I had I doubt I would have got a meaningful shot.

As we ate, I was concious of a lot of movement and raucous calls in the trees that line the boundary. Eventually two wrens popped out. There may have been more, they move so fast I’m never quite sure. Once they decided to show themselves they spent a good ten minutes perching on fence rails and the edges of raised beds. Oh, for that camera again!

I like wrens, though they always sound so cross.

Last Saturday, I spent the afternoon at a food festival run by a local school. It’s completely out of context here, but I’ve nowhere else to put it. I was surrounded by people giving out free food, mainly fruit, which was irritating because I couldn’t get away to eat any. As we packed up I did notice that someone had a poster up claiming they could sell you a vitamin supplement to make your kids more intelligent. They haven’t met mine.


I suspect that it was mainly snake oil, though the weren’t the only ones peddling a good line in…er…the latest fad. Note how I select my words carefully. Note how I carefully add a link there too, in case anyone thinks I am accusing local vitamin pedlars or being cruel to snakes.

I’d watched Saturday Kitchen before going to the fair and Jay Rayner had stated quite clearly that there was no such thing as a superfood – just a marketing opportunity. Now, I’m not qualified to judge, but I do find merit in his argument that a varied, balanced diet is healthier than a load of superfoods.

Imagine my surprise upon finding myself next to a stand from a well-known supermarket and two staff members who kept saying “It’s a superfood, you know.”

Now, I’m not one to bear grudges, but that particular supermarket branch refused to let me have a day there for bag packing when Nottingham Outlaws Juniors needed new shirts. When I applied to their community fund for backing they turned us down. And when Julia tried to see if there was any way we could work together on the education side we were told that they only worked with farms that supplied them. It’s a good thing that I’m not one to bear grudges, as I say.

I was tempted to quote Jay Rayner, and I was also tempted to say that the best thing about chia seeds is the hour of amusement you get from picking your teeth after eating. But I didn’t, after all, do we really need more sarcasm and ridicule in the world?

Unfortunately, though I’d like to share a photo with you, I don’t think it would be ethical. Plus I’m having trouble cropping it to hide identities


. However, there’s a message on the shirt – “Farm to Fork – I’m helping children learn where their food comes from”.

Their table was heavy with water melon, mango, avocado, pineapple and chia seed, so I suggest that they must be teaching kids that  a lot of food comes from far away.

The eyes in the top picture are something Julia bought – we are rehearsing for Britain’s Got Talent. We don’t have much talent so we should fit right in.