This winter break, I missed a certain writing teacher’s class from last year. Every Thursday morning he’d give the class some weird exercises that always got the best writing out of me. They were mainly free writes with minimal guidance and only 20-30 min to write. Don’t worry about what you’re writing, if it makes sense or if there are themes. Just go. So with this break from school and all this time I don’t know what to do with, I decided to look up some exercises that can get my writing juices flowing.

I decided to do an exercise called the 3 Noun Exercise where you are given, you guessed it, three nouns and your job is to connect them in your free write. I started on track but ended up just sticking with the first word – talent. So here is the unedited* result.

*except for paragraph breaks


 

TALENT

Everyone always told her that she had a lot of talent. It was a word thrown around entirely too much that by the time she was fifteen years old she had already forgotten the meaning of it.

Talent was just memorization. Step left, step right, spin, land and bow – but don’t forget to make it look smooth and elegant the whole way through. Anyone can do it so long as they remembered the steps; remember the smile. Anyone can commit themselves to being graceful and elegant so long as they set their minds to it. Watch the tapes of the greats, study and put your head to it.

Talent became less of a gift in her mind and more of a question of will power. How committed can you really be to devoting yourself to it – to being excellent. For her, it was never a choice, it was always a sense of duty.

This was never something she would admit to anyone, especially her parents. It wasn’t like her parents weren’t understanding. They weren’t like the “Dance Moms” you see on TLC. If, at any point, she were to tell them she didn’t want to go to dance practice today or she didn’t believe she wanted to pursue dancing altogether, they wouldn’t have forced her to do anything she didn’t want to.

But she knew the response she’d receive. She had only seen it but a handful of times but she was reflective enough to know she didn’t want it again. On the other hand, she was thankful. That look, that tone, it kept her going. It kept her at the top of the class; the top of the industry. But it’s now that she thinks about the questions that will likely remain unanswered.

What if she just told her parents how she truly felt about what is now widely referred to as her craft? Would it have been at all worth it? Was it actually worth it to keep going all this time? What were really the fruits of her labor? What does she have to show for all the blisters, blood, pain and suffering now? There’s nothing she accomplished that she can say honestly makes her happy.

People ask and all she can do is tell. “Where’s the hardware?”. They ask and she points. They always seem much more aghast than she ever felt when she received that first Tony.  It held just as much gravity and importance as did the first trophy she received in the first grade. She looks at their faces as they look at the gold – in envy.

The troupe you hear when someone wins such an award is often along the lines of, “I’ve worked my whole life for this and I couldn’t be happier.” But it was that night, weeks after her accident, that she accepted the award and did not feel what she was supposed to feel. Well, she never did, but she was always good at pretending that she did.

It was on the largest stage possible that she questioned it all.

When she came home, the dishes were still stacked in the sink begging for a cleaning.

The dogs were still whimpering for food.

And her left leg was still gone.

 

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