In short? That even talented writers suffer. A lot.
When we are trying to find wisdom in order to learn to write well, we usually get Stephen King’s On Writing and some other books. A less straightforward way would be to look at the notes or letters of writers. The Peruvian Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas-Llosa is a loyal follower of Gustave Flaubert, the french writer that is known as the precursor of the modern novel. Vargas-Llosa has said that after reading Flaubert’s letters he realized that with work, insistence and perseverance one can make up for the lack of talent.
Below I share some of the most interesting passages that I found in Flaubert’s correspondence (Steegmuller, 1980) at the time he was writing his masterpiece: Madame Bovary. Most of these passages come from letters addressed to his friend and lover Louise Colet, with whom Flaubert had a very strange relationship (but that is ‘harina de otro costal‘). Flaubert’s sentences in those letters show the process of writing the best sentences one could write. We usually assume that sentences flow out of talented writers in an effortless way. However, reading Flaubert’s letters we can see how one of the best writers struggles when trying to produce the written perfection.