Running From Talent: And Your Next Chapter

Image: The Next Chapter, Stockholm
Image: The Next Chapter, Stockholm

Last month as BookExpo America and its Author Hub were about to convene in New York, I had the good fortune to be in Stockholm to speak at a conference called The Next Chapter. It’s produced by the very able Jonas Lennermo and his team at Publit, a publishing firm at the heart of Sweden’s highly literate, gracious culture.

I say “good fortune” for two reasons.

First, while making the run to Stockholm and back looked pretty meshugga on paper — I’d be getting back to the States with about a 36-hour turnaround to BEA in New York — the dash actually proved to be an amazing breather in a laughably busy spring season. There was a speakers’ dinner in a jewel-box castle built by the crown as a viewing stand for ice skating. There was a design-hotel room in a former barracks, centuries old. There were engaged, focused co-speakers and conferees ready with lively exchanges of views. And there was a long, long supper outdoors in the all-but-endless evening light, the kind of moment when colleagues become friends. I left richer than when I went in.

Second, the trip had a sort of parallel journey running alongside it, something peculiar on the wing of each 767 I jumped onto: it was as if I’d flown briefly away from the turmoil of the industry! the industry! and into what I seriously can only truthfully describe as the “talent” of what we’re on about here in writing and publishing.

But we tussle with The Talent Question on a much roomier, broader plain in publishing and writing than gender-based considerations give us.

On that wider field of things that weird us out, a mention of talent gets everybody confused and defensive, just as a mention of intelligence does. So needlessly.


By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson

Writer Unboxed: Running From Talent: And Your Next Chapter



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