I don’t know Jeff Littleton personally. I’ve never met him face to face, but this I know. He is a writer with a capital “W”. Got me to thinking. (Okay, that’s a feat in itself). That aside, I began to wonder just what it is about his writing that is so … so … well, professional. Whatever that “thing” is, Doni has it too. In spades!
So do several other writers published here. It’s like the difference in someone sitting down to a piano and playing a ditty by ear and someone sitting down reeling off Rachmaninoff. Both are talents, to be sure. Both are enjoyable. Both (if done right) can command a handsome recompense. But … but … there is just a polish, a rhythm, a cadence to some folk’s writing that sets it just a bit apart from those of us who ‘play by ear.’
I don’t know what this ‘thing’ is that we call talent. I doubt that anyone can define or measure it. Let’s face it, if it could be defined and measured, one could write a whole book about it and get very wealthy. But what I do know is this: These folk who seem to have just a bit more of that ‘thing’ than the rest of we mortals, seem to exist in almost every endeavor and especially in the arts. I have a sneaking suspicion that that ‘thing’ is closely related to very hard work in the form of practice.
You know that old story about someone stopping Jachia Heifitz on a street in New York and asking him how to get to Carnegie Hall, to which he made his famous reply, “Practice, practice, practice.” I believe that this is probably true in any path or persuasion.
Talent? Of course. That is an unmeasurable slice of the pie. I don’t know how it is in some of the other arts, but I do know that in music there are those who have the raw talent but do little to cultivate it. What a waste! And conversely, there are those who love a particular art and expend a great deal of time in practice and hard work but just never quite seem to be able to get the ‘art’ part of the equation in hand. Compare that to ‘paint-by-numbers.’ The colors are all correct and in the right place, but it is stilted and must be viewed from very far away. The technical skill is present, but the art is sadly absent.
The joy, the real reward to the rest of the population, is in finding someone involved in a particular endeavor who not only has that ineffable ‘something’ extra but has also put in the time and effort to actually polish their art.
Guess I’d better go practice my music!
Adrienne Jacoby is a 40-plus-year resident of Shasta County and native-born Californian. She was a teacher of vocal music in the Enterprise Schools for 27 years and has been retired for 11 years.
A musician all her life, she was married to the late Bill Jacoby with whom she formed a locally well -known musical group who prided themselves in playing for weddings, wakes, riots, bar mitzvas and super market openings. And, oh yes . . . she has two children, J’Anna and Jayson.