How Original Are You?

It’s taken my over 30 years, but I’ve come to realize that being intelligent or a quick thinker doesn’t necessarily make you original. I wrote a lot of fiction in my youth (8-28), but that activity eventually passed. I became more interested in studying what other, brighter minds than mine had created. Some of that might be based on my day job, technical writing, wherein I translate engineering concepts (developed by someone else) into prose that other people can use on a practical basis. I’m not flashy in my writing, nor particularly emotional or dynamic. There’s a reason I’m a technical writer, not a marketing copywriter.

I really should have been a history writer, recording the thoughts and actions of brighter, better minds. And I might still do that some day.

What set me on this train of thought was not a rereading of my own writing (egad, perish the thought!), but simply reading about the history of a country I plan to visit someday soon. There were people in that nation’s past with more ambition, more exciting lives, more ability to change the world than I will ever have. In the present day, I can work for those people–Jason Hundley at Zero Point Frontiers and Darlene Cavalier at Science Cheerleader are true forces of nature–and I have just enough talent to be able to translate their ideas into something practical. I just lack the ambition or imagination to be them or to create the same level of dramatic enterprise.

Perhaps this is why I’m happily middle class, or middle management. I can execute other people’s brilliant ideas, I just don’t have the talent to come up with the bright ideas myself. And the thing is, at some level I’m okay with that. Changing the world involves too much struggle and aggravation. And, again, maybe being “bright” just isn’t good enough. If you’ve ever seen the movie or play Amadeus, I’m more like a contented Salieri than an effortlessly brilliant Mozart. I work to pay the bills, quite often. I’m not writing for the sheer joy of creation. I envy those people whose minds are exploding with new ideas…but would I want to be them? Not necessarily.

I have become a conduit and amplifier of brighter people’s good ideas. Am I okay with that? I suppose I’ll have to be. As was said in a Star Trek episode, “You can’t just wake up and say, ‘Today I will be brilliant’.” Raw talent can’t be taught. I’ve got to make the best of who and what I am. That’s not so bad, is it?

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