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My (Un)amazing Talent

May 27, 2013

You are currently feeling hungry.

I don’t mean this as a statement, but rather the beginning of an analogy. It was worth it to scare the snot out of the people who are actually hungry, though.

So, yes. You are in an analogy, you’re currently doing the awe-inspiring task of being you, and you’re hungry. We’re not talking ‘sit amongst pigeons with your mouth open’ levels, but it’s enough to detract you from whatever you enjoy doing with your spare time.

So, you do the logical thing. You go to grab some food.

You don’t even bother to check the fridge before you don your coat and put your shoes on. The fridge is one of those friends that goad you into thinking it has something, then yells ‘surprise!’ and laughs at you when you open the door to find it bare. You can hear it calling from the kitchen, but you know it’s merely cries of wolf. You can’t blame it. All it does is stand around and hum all day, it has to get its entertainment somewhere.

As you walk down the street to get the ingredients for your meal — and, as you also notice, when you’re coming home — people are giving you looks. They aren’t snide looks, judging you from the outside in and forgetting about books and their covers. They’re not weirded out looks, either. They’re looks of minor surprise and awe. It’s a little confusing, but you get home and combine the ingredients for a meal, stuffing the rest in your (somewhat disgrunted) fridge.

Of course, your food only lasts for so long. By next week, you need to make the trip again.

The more you do the trip, the more awe you notice on people’s faces. People are now stopping their gardening or car-washing to full-on goggle at you as if you were made of gold. You let it pass and get your ingredients, then head home again. Nothing is thought of it.

One day, you decide to do a fun challenge. Thoughout the period of a month, you decide to do a new meal every other day. You’ll sit down, Google for a meal you’d like, grab your keys and buy the ingredients. You’ll come back, cook it up, and give it a try. It’ll be tiring to keep having to do the food walk every other day, but it should be fun and exciting. You might even get some real golden recipes out of it.

So you do it.

About halfway through your adventures in culinary arts, you find that your path is blocked by a group of people. You recognise them as the Grade A Gawkers, the personal fan club that supports you from the sidelines by watching you walk back and forth. The one in the front of the group speaks.

“How do you do it?” they say.

“Do what?” you reply.

“Go to the store and get food.”

A cog in your brain wobbles on its axis. Isn’t this what everyone does? Isn’t this just basic common sense? You shrug it off and go for the bait.

“Well, see, I get hungry. Then, I decide I want some food. Then, I buy and make the food. It’s that easy, really.”

“Easy? You say that’s easy? Well,” the lead says, turning to his group. “I guess that really is a sign of genius, isn’t it?”

“Well, if I’m so amazing, how do you do things?”

“Me? I do the shopping every month, and I buy everything pre-made, and I get it online delivery. Shopping is such a chore. I was definitely not brought into a family that inherently buys stuff.”

“What about making something to recipe? Have you tried that?”

“Recipe? Christ, the last time I made something to recipe, it took me an entire week to get the ingredients, cook it, and serve.”

“How on earth did it take you that long to cook the bloody thing? I can get a meal done in a day.”

“A day!” the lead turns back to the group. “You hear that? Done in a day. My goodness, some people just have all the luck.”

“Not really,” you say with a shrug. “It’s quite easy, actually. In fact, I’m doing a thing where I do a totally new meal every other day.”

“Oh goodness.” You begin to look around for a spade to dig the lead’s jaw out of the floor. “A meal every other day. So, you have to find a recipe, get the ingredients, and make it in the space of two days? How on earth do you even get the recipes?”

“It’s easy when you look around.”

“Well, go on then. If I told you to make a meal from, uh…” The lead rubs their head. “Ah. Eggs, bread, and brown sauce. Go on, food maestro. Give us a dish.”

“How about scrambled eggs on toast?”

The seemingly off-the-collar comment — a meal you could give out the secrets for for free — acts like a mortar shell of inspiration to the entire group. They all recoil as the idea strikes them simultaneously, the sheer brilliance of your genius-birthed recipe reeling in their minds.

“My goodness,” the lead says. “You have some sort of gift.”

“I do?”

“I mean, I see what you did with the eggs. And the bread — you toast it! Of course! My gosh, you toast the bread. That’s totally…I would never have seen it coming. That’s something else, right there.”

“Thank you,” you say with uncertainty.

“Well, I’m sure I’m getting in the way of your shining brilliance,” the lead says, breaking the group up to free your path. “Keep buying those ingredients.”

“Sure,” you say. You continue walking, the eyes of everyone on you making you feel as if you’re walking on a red carpet, about to go up on stage and receive the Noble Prize for inventing scrambled eggs on toast.

This is what it feels like when people wonder about my writing.

It’s really hard to get into their shoes. There wasn’t a point in my life where writing 3-4k words a day on a topic I liked was bad, or hard, or even slightly deflating. Every time my computer science course gave me a report or thesis to write, I’d get all giddy amongst a group of students who all detested the idea of writing a 5000 word report in the space of two months. I’m certainly not claiming that they were lazy or stupid; if anything, I was the misfit in the course.

It’s just strange. Of course people have story ideas rushing through their head at every moment. Of course everyone has inspiration from the tiny things in life. Of course everyone can sit down and write a fleshed-out short story in a day. It’s just what people do. Except, it’s really not. If my May challenge has taught me anything, it’s that it’s really, really not.

The biggest shock to the news that I have written thirteen short stories in May (and two more planned before the end) is the material. They ask me how I get all my inspiration, to which I want to reply “how do you not?”. The world is full of amazing and fun things, especially when you take that little nugget of life and bend it in ways only you can bend it. I guess it’s just based on the fact that I love writing.

After I studied computer science, seemingly arcane and magical programs suddenly became understandable as to how they were made, even having me going so far as thinking “they coded it like this? Are they some kind of idiot?”. Turns out, when you get into this story writing stuff, you have the same third-eye open up, except that it cracks open everything and anything to use as a story, where the conflicts would lie and the twists would sit. It’s strange to think about it, but I’ll have to get used to the idea that people just can’t do that normally.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to the store to get some food.

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