My acquaintance with Writer B taught me that a gift such as his must be guarded, nurtured, and if possible, developed with the most special care a parent or mentor can give.
Had things been different for Writer B, his path might have been influenced by early, sustained guidance of the right sort. A wise and trusted mentor, if Writer B had found such a miracle soon enough in his development, may have succeeded in guiding him, or at least convincing him that brilliant flashes did not preclude “homework.” In Writer B’s case, we will never know, but for other such writers, found or noticed at an earlier stage, there is hope.
Unlike my realization of what could have helped Writer A in the current moment of his struggle, I saw no present solution for Writer B. He was in his late fifties when he took early retirement, and his habits and thought patterns were probably set. They appeared so to me, at least in regard to his writing life. I could never convince him that journal writing or practice writing might propel him into the momentum that possibly could have launched him into the flow of his novel and kept him going.
It was obvious to me that Writer B’s total output was likely to remain small: How many flashes of inspiration can one person expect in a lifetime? The stress and intensity of too many, too close together, could burn the writer out.
I began by feeling like Writer B was way ahead of me, in talent and also in creative process. His writing was much better than mine. His moments of brilliance outshone and outpaced my few sparks a hundred-fold. However, late in my acquaintance with Writer B, I began to feel that his gift was in the process of becoming a crippling handicap.
I wrote often or regularly and expected little from a given writing session—even after I became a published, paid writer. I just wrote. Sometimes it was fun; at others, homework. I’d felt like a plodder most of my life, in music as in writing, so I didn’t know another way to move forward.
If my hopes or expectations were out of line with reality, I discovered this, became discouraged, and eventually resumed plodding. Years of this habit trained me to a high tolerance for my slow pace. In the final analysis, this may have put me ahead of Writer B, although his was the greater talent.