As requested, a rebloggable version. (Dear Tumblr, How hard would it be to make ask replies rebloggable?)

How should an aspiring writer know that she has talent? Where is the best place to find a judge of such things?

On the page.

And, possibly, in your heart.

(I was convinced I was a great writer when I was in my late teens, and even wrote some stories. When I was in my forties I found the binder I had written them in, and read them, expecting to be blown away by my youthful brilliance, and instead found myself reading things that, if the author had handed them to me and said “Do I have a career in writing waiting for me?” I probably would have said “Er, probably not. DO you have any other skills?”

Fortunately, I had no other skills, and I was convinced I could be good, and  being a journalist and writing for my living, day in and day out, taught me enough that, when I returned to fiction, I was a lot better. Or perhaps I’d just got the bad writing out of my system.)

I tell aspiring writers that they should write. It’s the only real advice I have. If you think you have talent, then write. You’ll find out if you’re any good. And you’ll also find out that it takes a lot more than just talent to be a writer. You have to be willing to write on the days you don’t feel like writing, for a start. And you have to learn to finish things, and to start the next thing.

And if you’re going to be a writer, don’t ask someone else if you have talent, or if something’s any good. What do they know?

(Another anecdote: I buried a story for 20 years because the two people I showed it to, when I’d just finished it and was proud as Punch of this clever thing I’d made, didn’t like it. They were both professional editors and people whose opinions I respected. So I simply put it in a drawer. Didn’t even show it to anyone, or send it out. When, twenty years after it was written, I pulled it out and dusted it off, it won the LOCUS award for Best Short Story of the year. And I felt a bit silly for having listened to two people twenty years earlier who simply didn’t like it, or get it, or like that sort of thing.)