The second subheading under Art & Fear's chapter, "Fears About Yourself," is:
Talent (my comments will be in dark blue brackets)
"Talent, in common parlance, is 'what comes easily.' So sooner or later, inevitably, you reach a point where the work doesn't come easily, and -- Aha, it's just as you feared!
"Wrong. By definition, whatever you have is exactly what you need to produce your best work. There is probably no clearer waste of psychic energy than worrying about how much talent you have--and probably no worry more common. This is true even among artists of considerable accomplishment.
"Talent...is a gift, and nothing of the artist's own making...
"Were talent a prerequisite, then the better the artwork, the easier it would have been to make. But alas, the fates are rarely so generous. For every artist who has developed a mature vision with grace and speed, countless others have laboriously nurtured their art through fertile periods and dry spells, through false starts and breakaway bursts, through successive and significant changes of direction, medium, and subject matter. Talent may get someone off the starting blocks faster, but without a sense of direction or a goal to strive for, it won't count for much. The world is filled with people who were given great natural gifts ... yet never produce anything. And when that thappens, the world soon ceases to care whether they are talented.
"...whatever his initial gift, Mozart was also an artist who learned to work on his work, and thereby improved. In that respect he shares common ground with the rest of us. Artists get better by sharpening their skills or by acquiring new ones; they get better by learning to work, and by learning from their work...So when you ask, 'Then why doesn't it come easily for me?', the answer is probably, 'Because making art is hard!' What you end up caring about is what you do, not whether the doing came hard or easy.
[Drat. I so want it to be easy...]
"Talent is a snare and a delusion..."
[Here and there in the book the authors include boxed asides. This section has one of them:]____________________________________________
A Brief Digression In Which The Authors Attempt to Answer (Or Deflect) an Objection:
Q. Aren't you ignoring the fact that people differ radically in their abilities?
Q. But if people differ, and each of them were to make their best work, would not the more gifted make better work, and the less gifted, less?
A. Yes. And wouldn't that be a nice planet to live on?____________________________________________