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Doc? Could you ask my DNA to motivate me today?

Posted by erinlausten on December 8, 2010

Words written: 41,465 Currently Reading: Writer’s Digest Jan 2011 issue

It is not often that I feel the pull to post on two consecutive days. Well, not for want or desire, it is more rare that I find the time to post on two consecutive days. And to be honest, I don’t have the time today. But dangit! I can’t help myself! It is one of those days; I apologize in advance.

So what has my panties in a twist? Nothing really. My panties are just fine thank you, but I am inspired. Inspired to think about things a little deeper and search for that golden answer! The answer that really doesn’t exist. Well, maybe the answer is 42, but really, who knows the question? But I digress (didn’t I tell you to stop me when I do that? You are being lax in your duties. Get in gear please, we can’t go on like this.)

The question came up a few days ago about whether anyone could write a novel. This was then continued on Windchaser’s Journey where she puts forth the idea that the creative mind is different than other minds and that there is a physical reality to the ability to write.  And my response? Cool, maybe that explains why I feel a little out of place, but wait a minute. Let me think a little more on this.

Stop the presses! If we know how the creative mind works, and that indeed can predict the success a writer can experience in the field of novel writing, then can we also predict what sport a child can excel in? Ridiculous!

Well, maybe not. Now there is a DNA test that claims to do the very thing.

If that is possible, then there is a way to determine who should be a CEO, who should be race driver, a waitress, a politician, a cook, etc, etc, etc… How exciting! No more wasting money on a useless degree that at 20 you thought would fulfill your dreams and fill your pockets, but now you hate it and can’t do anything with it! Why worry about dreams because we can know what they will be before you even open your eyes the first time! And with enough advance notice you can do the work necessary to be very successful at your predetermined dream!

Some of this really makes sense to me. I do feel like my brain is made up a little different and that there are some jobs I am just better equipped to handle than others (but this is the same for everyone, so what’s the big deal?).

But, wow, there is a lot about this that scares the crap out of me. It is the old free will vs. determinism argument that keeps popping up. It has been popping up for thousands of years. Just because we have another “Scientific” explanation to support it, doesn’t negate the philosophical argument, it really just gives another set of vocabulary to use (someday I will go on a rant about science, and as a person who has been inundated with both science and philosophy my entire life, it will be a wild ride. But not today, Today the soap box is already getting a little tall).

As I was saying, the argument is hardly new. People on either side still get just as frothy ( I like this visual, I can just see it, two ancient Greek philosophers foaming at the mouth, makes me smile). And me? I am stuck solidly no where on this issue. A piece of me sees that yes, there is a part of a person (call it talent if you want) that gives them an inclination or even a propensity to be good at something. And some people really shouldn’t be doing some things. Doesn’t stop them though, and to be honest, the fact that they are doing it is probably exactly why they should be, if only to remind us of how it shouldn’t be done. (Do you like that logic? I’m still on the fence with that one, but let’s just see where it goes, but later, maybe, if I feel like it).

So, what does this matter? Not a dang thing! Nothing, nada, who cares. It’s like counting the stars, eventually your finger’s get tired, or you skip one and then you just have to start over again. Ultimately it is a practice in frustration because there is just so much that impacts life, what you do, and where you go. There is motivation, desire, inclination, talent, education, experience, responsibilities, dedication, and opportunity. A lot of people talk about luck and talent. I don’t think they really matter, the key is opportunity and motivation.

Opportunity is my favorite. I have a penchant for grabbing them when they come. The big key is to recognize them and push the fear of the unknown aside. Opportunity is not just availability for something to happen, it also includes the ability for it to happen. This could, include talent, if you like using this word. It includes experience, training, education too. But without it all falling into place, it really doesn’t matter which road you took. All the pieces have to fit for it to work. I don’t care how talented you are, you can’t succeed if something or someone didn’t come along to take it to the next level.

And can you take it to the next level if everything all of a sudden just fell into your lap? You had better be ready for it and have the motivation to do what needs to happen to be successful. Because when that button is pushed you have to GO GO GO!

And there you are… my thoughts on that today, but tomorrow, they may change, ideas do that you know… makes for an interesting trip


15 Responses to “Doc? Could you ask my DNA to motivate me today?”

  1. Brother Richard said

    Hi there, just wanted to pass on some old sayings, luck favors the well prepared, and your life is and has been preparing you for this journey forever….real emotional growth is always preceded by emotional pain, otherwise we would never grow emotionally. I like your blog, keep on keeping on….

  2. Brother Richard! Thanks for that, as always your words are welcome where ever I may be… BTW, Keep On Keeping on is my favorite song by the Pozo Secco Singers… talk about obscure… 🙂

  3. lifeafter39 said

    This reminds me of the movie Gattaca, with Ethan Hawke. Despite the genetic odds against him, he follows his dream to go into space. It’s all opportunity, planning, determination and freewill.

  4. @ lifeafter39
    Exactly! Yet, it could be argued that one was predetermined to have the ability to determine, plan, etc and actually that was going to happen anyway and… oh it just hurts to think about. It’s the whole chicken or the egg phenomenon.
    In the end, it doesn’t matter all that much because we can think about it intellectually until we are blue in the face. What it really comes down to is just following your heart. If you want it, and it feels right, then why worry? Go for it. Who cares if it is predetermined or not. A doctor might tell you that you are going to die tomorrow, but you live another 50 years.
    Dreams are what hold us together, it lets us fly (figuratively as well as specifically), and if you spend your time worrying about whether your dream can come true you are wasting your time instead of doing what it takes to make it come true…
    But that is just the dreamer in me…

  5. Shelly said


    Went to college and cried through college algebra…wanted to go to law school…worked for lawyers and discovered 10 years in …i’m too artsy fartys and think way outside of anyone’s box.


    • Shelly
      Isn’t it interesting that thinking “outside the box” has become a catch phrase? In my experience they really don’t want you thinking outside the box, maybe on the edges, maybe in a corner, but when you are outside? They get really really uncomfortable. My biggest problem in all of my work experiences is that I have too many ideas. They keep coming and I can’t help but throw them out there, every once in a while they like one or two, but eventually it makes them irritated with me. Ah well, we live, we love, we irritate. It’s grand.

      • lifeafter39 said

        Shelly and Erin,
        My daughter if a free spirit and definately thinks “outside the box”. While I love this about her, school is a challenge. Some teachers value it, others don’t know how to cope. It’s always a balancing act – I don’t want her to conform, it would crush her artistic spirit and yet she needs to get through school. Oh what to do.

  6. I have to agree with Shelly. I think we all are born with certain strengths. The one that exist can be developed, but if they’re not there, they’re not there.

    I supposedly have a very high IQ, yet I suck at math. In fact, I suck at anything of a technical nature. I can write–but only fiction. I couldn’t write nonfiction to save my life. I know a newspaper reporter who’s very good at her work, yet when she landed a contract to write a book, she wasn’t able to deliver. A friend of my mother’s wanted more than anything to write historical romances. She did manage to sell one of her manuscripts at a time when the genre was so popular, publishers were buying anything they could get their greedy little hands on–but the book flopped and she never sold another. I felt bad for her when I heard some of the distributors called it the worst piece of crap they’d ever read.

    Writers can be taught. Storytellers have to be born. One can’t be taught to be an artist or a brilliant musician. It’s got to be in there somewhere to start with.

  7. Shelly said


    • Think about it. How many kids were miserable in school because they were no good at sports though they desperately wanted to be? How many people make fools of themselves trying out for American Idol when they can’t carry a tune? To say we don’t have any limitations is unrealistic.

  8. Norma
    Your line about story tellers being born makes me laugh, and only because I said the very thing to a friend yesterday while I was still going on and on about the subject.
    An interesting note, however. My father is the most amazing story teller. We would spend hours at the dinner table (friends and family) completely engrossed in one of his tales. I used to have great abs and I am convinced it is because of the constant laughter. But he isn’t as good as putting the story onto the page. It isn’t because he doesn’t know how to write, because he can write non-fiction extremely well. But his talent for story telling comes in the oral form. There really is a difference though both are an art.
    Interesting…I think.

  9. Talent does matter. That’s an inescapable fact. It’s subjective, to a degree, but it has to be there for the other elements to work. When I sent the manuscript that became my first novel to my agent, it wasn’t really publishable–but, as she tells it, she saw the talent in that mess. And she had a huge success with another client, Judith Gould, whose novel Sins had made the NY Times bestseller list shortly before she got my submission. That’s timing. But she would NOT have taken on a writer without talent, no matter what, so timing would not have mattered.

  10. Talent is an interesting concept. Maybe one for my next post, but I will throw this out there. Let us all agree that Talent does indeed exist ( I know many would argue this, but I don’t care, I’m making the rules), so what is it exactly? Is it quantifiable? Does it always manifest? Where does it come from and why? And how do you know you have it?

    yes, I do believe I have my next post…

  11. Eve said

    There are many scientific, albeit boring books on subjects relating to your question about talent. Dr. Milton Erickson said anyone can change no matter who or how you were born and yet the controversial book The Bell Curve discusses our limitations based on our DNA and socio-economic background. Personally, I feel that talent depends on your focus and desire.
    If you dream to be something and you follow through with it, you will find mentors to help you, you will learn like a sponge because of the yearning need in your heart, you will reach your pinnacles because your innate talent will blossom like a flower that just needed a little attention. Your father could have chosen novelist as his career- if someone would have typed his humorous stories. You are so lucky to have his heritage and his oral tradition as a basis for your own talent.

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