Res­o­lu­tion 9

Is be­com­ing a great writer all about ta­lent or more about tenac­ity? Donal O’Donoghue on the not so sim­ple twists of fate

RTÉ Guide - - Books -

Do you be­lieve in fate, destiny or any of that jazz? Are you of the be­lief that your fu­ture is al­ready writ­ten be­fore you even live the open­ing scene? Of course if the stars are so aligned why bother with New Year resolutions or midlife rev­o­lu­tions? Why not just play the cards as they fall? Maybe in some ways it’s like that old line that ev­ery­one wants to go to heaven but no­body wants to die. So while you might want the com­fort of destiny or fate to as­suage guilt, at the same time you don’t want to gam­ble ev­ery­thing on just one hand. Hence the back­stop of the res­o­lu­tion, that this time it will be dif­fer­ent, that this time we can change our world.

Of course, the reach of fate is not the same as the quirk of serendip­ity. Like the fact that I was writ­ing about The Bea­tles’ track ‘Rev­o­lu­tion 9’ when I hap­pened to open up Richard Russo’s book of es­says, The Destiny Thief, on a ran­dom page. The first thing I read was Mal­colm Glad­well’s “the ten-thou­sand-hour rule” which he ar­gues is how long it takes most peo­ple to get re­ally good at something dif­fi­cult. Glad­well cites the ex­am­ple of the fledgling Fab Four play­ing Ham­burg, a gru­elling eight days a week itin­er­ary, as the thing that trans­formed them. In other words, ge­nius is not enough to get you over the line. Most authors who have been through the mill will ar­gue for tenac­ity be­ing as cru­cial as ta­lent. The for­mer will only get you so far, the lat­ter is where you pay your dues. Russo writes of this in his book of es­says, how it was not his god-given gifts but sheer dogged­ness that got him to the heights of suc­cess. Destiny or good for­tune or fate might be in the al­chem­i­cal mix but you have to make it hap­pen. So we’re back with our shoul­der to the wheel, res­o­lu­tion and rev­o­lu­tion in our heads, and a hard road ahead. Un­less you be­lieve that destiny will do all the hard work, which is a bit like play­ing roulette with­out a ball.

The Bea­tles: Made in Ger­many?

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