1. Flushed out an overflowing sewer line
2. Cleaned up a pile of old dog puke I discovered hiding in a corner
3. Forgotten to make my son's lunch for his last day of school
I asked my wife about the talent question yesterday. Here's what she said, "Of course talent exists. You know it does. You're just engaging in an intellectual exercise because you're argumentative. That's what you do. It's annoying. Anyway, people who say talent doesn't really exist are probably those who have it. You don't know how fortunate you are because you've known since you were about 5 what you should be doing with your life. Trust me, if you were still wondering what you should do when you grow up, you'd believe in talent because you'd wish you had it."
On a related note, I do believe in the "it" factor. And it's obvious as all get out when someone has "it." Let's take American Idol (nod to Erica from the comments). Personally, I couldn't stand Adam Lambert this season. I mean, let's be honest, the guy was a lousy singer. He screamed through most of his range, and vamped through the rest. I've heard much, much, much better technical singers in the church choir down the street. But it was also undeniable that Adam had "it." He had (for me) an annoyingly magnetic stage presence. You couldn't take your eyes off him.
It's the same way with writers. I can usually tell in a few pages if I'm going to like a writer. The first time I was exposed to Ian McEwan, it was like discovering chocolate. One bite, and I was in. And it has little to do with the story. I'm a huge Nabakov fan, and his best-known story is an odious romp through pedophilia. By contrast, I rarely read intricately plotted thrillers, like the ones produced by Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum or Richard North Patterson (and don't even get me started on James Patterson). I recognize these guys are good (even great) plotters, but for me, the voice just isn't there, and I don't really care about guns, police procedure, military technology or international plots to blow up the world. It bores me.
My wife is right (as usual) that if someone asked me if F. Scott Fitzgerald was talented--and I wasn't dug into an argument--I would answer, "Extravagantly. Ridiculously. Gratuitously." Because he has "it."
So you tell me. What does "it" for you?