Friday, June 29, 2007

Passion or skill?

Tonight, we attended Sarah's end-of-camp celebration, at which many of the young writers, including Sarah, read poems and story sections they had written during the camp. As I have each year, I found the writing of extremely variable quality but the passion uniformly high and admirable.

It's easy to poke fun at teen writing, and there's certainly plenty of bad examples. I know I contributed more than my fair share to the world when, as a young poet, I churned out a few hundred poems, most of which were heartfelt and poorly executed. Many folks also like to decry teen writing, especially teen poetry, for its raw, direct, and frequently unskilled nature.

And yet.

And yet there's a passion in a great deal of teen writing that I find powerful and alluring and praiseworthy.

All of which made me confront one of those hypothetical questions that is useless in any real sense but nonetheless interesting, at least to me, as a sort of directional guide:

If you absolutely had to choose one, would you pick passion or skill?

I'm talking about writing here, but the question extends naturally to other areas.

I know that skill will produce the better product. I also know that reading extremely passionate but unskilled work can be downright painful.

All that said, if I had to pick one, I'd go for passion.

Passion every time.

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