Erika Taylor

When I was in my 20s, I wrote a novel and was fortunate enough to have it published. At the time, it felt as if the rest of my life was spread out in front of me like a field of wildflowers, and I was rushing forward straight into all of that color. I had a Great American Novel in me — I just knew it.

I loved to write. Even today, I can’t think of anything that’s given me the same feeling as nailing the right metaphor, or coming up with a description so perfect it made me laugh out loud with pleasure. In those moments it felt as if I were holding a cable that pulsed with pure inspiration, hot and humming in my hands. It felt like I was touching God. But my path in life hasn’t yet been to write another novel, though I still dream of it.

Today, I seldom tell people that I wrote a book because they inevitably say, “You’re so talented. Why don’t you write another one?” They mean to it to be encouraging, but I experience those words like a giant thumb on my windpipe because talent isn’t nearly enough.

I believe that talent is a gift the recipient did nothing to earn. You’re either born with it, or you’re not. To me, the only thing that matters is what someone does with the talent they were given. It requires very little to pick up a guitar and write your first song; however, a person’s true courage is shown if they stubbornly continue to create music during times when singing even one note feels impossible. That’s what separates talent from actual accomplishment, separates the guy sketching visionary architecture on a bar napkin from Frank Lloyd Wright.

This is all my way of announcing our upcoming special issue that will come out in conjunction with the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in November. Our magazines’ theme is “The Industry’s Got Talent,” and we will be profiling builders, service technicians and retailers who not only have an ability, but pursue it with some level of dedication. (The issue really should be called, “The Industry’s Got Talent, Persistence, Courage, Passion and a Great Work Ethic,” but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.)

In any case, we’ve been reaching out to our sources and so far we’re celebrating a musician, a fencer, a variety of singers, a writer and many more. Hearing these pool and spa professionals talk about their off-the-clock endeavors fills me with admiration and pride in our industry.

That leads me to the point of this column. Maybe you — or one of your colleagues — is a comedian, poet, sharp-shooter, competitive poker player or any number of other things requiring a combination of talent and perseverance. If so, we want to hear about it.

In my personal life, I make it a point to encourage everyone I know to pursue their aspirations, and it makes me very happy to have the chance to do that professionally as well.

So tell us what you’ve done. Who knows? Maybe we can make you famous.