The other day, I met with a talented architectural and interior designer whose work is extensive and prestigious. We were discussing a kitchen remodel. His expertise would have been far beyond our budget except for one fact: he is a kind uncle.
As we sat down, and he drew up a few ideas, I was intrigued once again at his work, this time specifically tailored to our space. He walked around the space, asked what was important to us, determined the limitations of the project, and within minutes had a design that had me floored. I'd often contemplated how to make the space fit our needs and had come up unsatisfied. Within minutes, he'd found a more than satisfying solution. He knows how to look at a space and make best use of it (even with the parameters imposed on him).
As I think about his talent, I can correlate it to the talent of a writer. The end result of that talent is a marvelous story one can devour satisfactorily, just as the perfect solution devised by my uncle. But work goes into making that story what it is: a writer must walk around the space (do research!), ask what is important (outline key points), and consider limitations (edit, cut out irrelevant prose). But with all this work, I also believe a writer must have what my uncle has: that talent, that love, that eye for the space. I think some writing experts call it voice. The writer takes all this hard work and beautifully meshes it into a story that changes lives for the better. A successful writer must have that gift of storytelling. If not, they and their readers end up like me alone trying to design a kitchen space: unsatisfied.