I was at a family get together the other night, and I was asked, "How do you do it?" I asked the lady in question to elaborate before I made a fool of myself. "How do you write all these stories?" she said. "Where do you get your ideas from?"
They're good questions, aren't they? At the time, I merely said that, "I just start writing and the stories tumble out," which is true, but the questions got me thinking - well it does, doesn't it? They say that there's a book in everyone - is there? Do we believe that? It might very well be so, but that isn't saying that everyone can write a book.
I'm not talking about the mechanical aspects of writing: words, sentences, paragraphs, spelling, punctuation and grammar, which incorporates style: point-of-view, tone, use of imagery and the multitude of choices that become the writer's style - their voice. I don't need to tell you that they're all a bit important. I'm not talking about the characters (who), plot (what), setting (where and when), theme (why) and style (how).
The reason I'm not talking about any of those things is because you can learn all of them. I know, because I did. In fact, anybody can learn those things, and once you do - are you a writer?
"Yes, you Sir."
"Are you sure?"
There you go then. The proof is in the pudding. I used to teach and assess leadership skills, you know. I've had this conversation many times. You're either a leader or you're not - regardless of whether you've learnt the how. And I would say that the same goes for writing. You can either tell a story, or you can't. Jokes are the same thing. Some people can't tell a joke if their next meal depended on it. Can I tell a story? You'd have to ask my readers that question. Much in the same way as followers will tell you whether they're following a leader or not.